Donald Trump has credited an experimental drug treatment with helping him recover from Covid-19 and suggested his diagnosis could be a “blessing in disguise” for the nation’s battle against the pandemic.
In a new White House video posted on Wednesday evening, Mr Trump said his illness had shed light on an experimental antibody cocktail that he credited for his improved condition.
Seemingly sensitive to the fact that his treatment is far from that received by average Americans, he promised to swiftly get the drugs approved for use — and for free — even though he does not have the power to order that himself.
“I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president, because I feel great,” Mr Trump said from the Rose Garden. “I feel like perfect.”
He received an experimental anti-viral cocktail made by Regeneron through a “compassionate use” exemption, a recognition of the above-and-beyond standard of care he receives as president.
The safety and effectiveness of the drug have not yet been proven and there is no way for the president or his doctors to know that the drug had any effect. Most people recover from Covid-19.
In the video, Mr Trump also continued to downplay the threat of the virus, promising those who are ill that they are going to “get better fast just like I did” even though more than 200,000 people in the US and more than a million worldwide have died from the disease.
Mr Trump posted the video on Twitter on Wednesday after aides said he had returned to the Oval Office for a briefing on Hurricane Delta, which is bearing down on the US Gulf Coast, and on economic stimulus prospects — despite still being contagious two days after he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Monday.
Aides insisted that only limited staff were around him and that he entered the office from the outside to limit exposure.
Amid questions about when he will return to the campaign trail, Mr Trump also offered a flurry of tweeted broadsides against Democrats and pushed lawmakers to take up piecemeal economic aid proposals after calling for an end to negotiations on a broader assistance package.
Mr Trump’s doctor reported on Wednesday that the president continued to make progress in his recovery.
Dr Sean Conley, the White House physician, said Mr Trump had declared, “I feel great!”
But Mr Trump’s absence from the public gaze — coupled with a lack of detailed information about the president’s health — had raised continued questions about the trajectory of his recovery and when he might be able to return to normal activities, including campaigning, less than four weeks before Election Day.
Dr Conley added in a memo that Mr Trump had been symptom-free for over 24 hours, and that his oxygen saturation level and respiratory rate were normal.
The memo also said a blood test on Monday showed Mr Trump had coronavirus antibodies, substances that fight infection, but he had been given an experimental drug on Friday containing these.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals say it is not possible for this type of blood test to distinguish between antibodies Mr Trump’s body may be making and those supplied by the company’s drug. Most likely, the ones detected in the Monday test are from the drug, the company said.
Still, Mr Trump called the drug “the key” to his recovery.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after symptom onset.
While reports of reinfection are rare, the CDC recommends that even people who recover from Covid-19 continue to wear a mask, stay distanced and follow other precautions.
Doctors said Mr Trump began showing mild symptoms on October 1.