Donald Trump's physician came under new scrutiny Wednesday after an upbeat 'health report' said he had COVID antibodies - only for the maker of one of the drugs he is on to say they could simply be a sign he has been treated with it.
In Dr. Sean Conley's statement, he shared that the president has a message for Americans: 'I feel great!'
The Navy Commander said labs taken Monday show there are COVID-19 antibodies in the president's system.
'Of note today, the President's labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2IgG antibodies from the labs drawn Monday, October 5; initial IgG levels drawn late Thursday night were undetectable' Conley wrote in his statement.
But he did not remind people that Trump has been treated with an antibody drug, the powerful and experimental treatment Regeneron.
Shortly after that one of the few press aides who has not been infected, Brian Morgenstern, hailed it as a 'good sign' which justified Trump returning to the Oval Office. Morgenstern is not a doctor, while Conley is an osteopath, not a medical doctor.
The claim of antibodies being detected earned a rapid pushback from Regeneron, which makes the eponymous treatment.
'Most of the standard assays for IgG [antibodies] would not distinguish between endogenous (self-made) antibodies and the ones delivered by our therapy,' a spokesman said.
'However, given the volume of IgG antibodies delivered in our therapy, and the timing of these tests, it is likely that the second test is detecting REGN-COV2 antibodies.'
Donald Trump's top physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Wednesday that the president has not experiencing symptoms related to coronavirus for 24 hours
In the statement updating Americans, Conley shared the president said, 'I feel great!'
The warning was yet another blow to Conley, a Navy commander who was voted 'nurses' choice' during a training course and reportedly handpicked for the job by Ronny Jackson, the previous White House physician who left while under investigation for being drunk on the job.
He has held a series of press conference outside Walter Reed which led to Speaker Nancy Pelosi describe him and other doctors as 'giggling.'
Critics say he has persistently refused to provide key details about Trump's purported recovery, and hidden behind health privacy laws without clearly stating that it was Trump himself who had ordered the details not to be released.
He also misnamed one of the president's drugs, and was at the center of a shambolic press conference Saturday when he offered differing accounts of how long the president had been ill.
And Conley has still not said when Trump last tested negative, at one press conference laughing and dismissing a question on when it was saying: 'Everyone wants that.'
At the almost-deserted White House Wednesday the junior press aide Morgenstern - who was not wearing a mask - dismissed questions about the negative test, which is critical to working out who Trump could have infected as well as the progression of his illness, saying: 'We're not asking to go back through a bunch of records and look backwards.'
He then tweeted about the release of classified documents from four years ago and posted angry replies on twitter to a White House correspondent who asked again for the date of the negative test. Morgenstern is a former aide to Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, who previously hosted a comedy variety show in New York.
The upbeat, brief and unsigned statement from Conley also claimed that the president has not had a fever for four days and has not needed any supplemental oxygen since his initial hospitalization at Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday. It did not say if he was on fever reducing medication.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that in order to 'return to work,' individuals must be 10 days past the time when they first experienced symptoms.
It appears, by way of updates from the president's medical team, that Trump first started feeling ill on Friday, when a fever was detected and his oxygen fell below normal levels.
The 'super spread' event that likely sparked the White House outbreak was the Rose Garden announcement last Saturday where Trump named Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
Barrett tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this summer, but has since tested negative.
Trump confirmed overnight Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive after they were made aware earlier in the day that his counselor Hope Hicks contracted the virus.
WHAT TRUMP’S HEALTH UPDATE SAYS - AND WHAT IT DOESN’T
By Natalie Rahhal, US Health Editor
'HIS PHYSICAL EXAM AND VITAL SIGNS, INCLUDING OXYGEN SATURATION AND RESPIRATORY RATE, ALL REMAIN STABLE AND IN THE NORMAL RANGE'
As measured by a pulse oximeter, normal oxygen saturation levels are between 95 and 100 percent.
Trump had to be given oxygen twice after it fell below 95 percent, including one dip beneath 94 percent.
A normal, healthy adult takes about 12 to 16 breaths a minute.
But it's not clear what Trump's normal, resting vitals were before he tested positive for COVID-19, nor has he given White House physician Dr Sean Conley permission to share a readout of his stats since his diagnosis.
'HE'S NOW BEEN FEVER-FREE FOR MORE THAN 4 DAYS, SYMPTOM FREE FOR OVER 24 HOURS AND HAS NOT NEEDED OR RECEIVED ANY SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN SINCE INITIAL HOSPITALIZATION'
Dr Conley said late Friday morning that President Trump had spiked a 'high fever.' We do not know how high his fever climbed, what his normal resting body temperature is (they typically range anywhere from 97 to 99F) or when exactly Dr Conley ceased to consider it 'high.'
During a Tuesday press conference, Dr Conley made a point of telling reporters that Trump had been on no fever reducing medications for over 72 hours.
Conspicuously absent from Wednesday's statement was any mention of such medications, which might artificially keep the president's temperature below 100.4F (the CDC's definition of a fever).
Dr Conley's statement puts Trump's condition in terms that mirror the CDC's criteria for when a COVID-19 patient can safely be around others again - but does not meet them:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
According to official White House statements, it has been only six days since Trump's first symptoms appeared. Fever or none, the CDC still considers him at-risk for infecting countless others in the White House.
Dr Conley had previously acknowledged that Trump's oxygen levels dropped suddenly twice - making his statement that he had not needed oxygen since initial hospitalization confusing.
'THE PRESIDENT'S LABS DEMONSTRATED DETECTABLE LEVELS OF SARS-CoV-2 IgG ANTIBODIES FROM LABS DRAWN MONDAY; INITIAL IgG ANTIBODIES...WERE UNDETECTABLE'
The body generates two categories of antibodies in response to pathogens, including the virus that causes COVID-19: IgM and IgG antibodies.
IgM antibodies arise more quickly and fade more quickly and, broadly speaking, offer very limited protection against re-infection.
IgG antibodies in general confer more lasting protection, although we don't know how long or how effective their protection is.
The vast majority of patients will develop antibodies of both types. It's normal for a patient to start developing both IgM and IgG antibodies with the first week of infection.
IgG antibodies are usually generate about a week after infection, peak within about three weeks, and appear to last around three months - although studies are ongoing.
However, Trump also received Regeneron's antibody cocktail drug on Thursday, artificially introducing antibodies to his body.
'Most standard assays for IgG would not distinguish [between] endogenous (self-made) antibodies and the ones delivered by our therapy,' Regeneron told DailyMail.com in a statement.
'However, given the volume of IgG antibodies delivered in our therapy and the timing of these tests, it is likely the second test is detecting REGN-COV2 antibodies.'
In other words, it's very possible that the antibodies detected in Trump have nothing to do with his own immune response, but are man made immune cells from the experimental drug he received.
Equally, there is no way to know for sure if the drug is working and responsible for the infection-fighting antibodies, which would be detectable in most patients any way by this point in the course of their illness - regardless of their prognosis.
It also appears another indecent where cases spread was at the White House event honoring Gold Star families last Sunday.
So far, 21 people within the president's inner circle – including himself and his wife – have tested positive for coronavirus over the last week.
Trump was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, where he was treated at the presidential suite for three nights.
Doctors put him on a cocktail of medications including the steroid dexamethasone, antiviral medication remdesivir and, at time, supplemental oxygen to help with breathing.
Some White House aides said in a report that the president appeared stronger when he returned to the White House on Monday evening, but claim they can hear him struggling to catch his breath sometimes.
All aides and advisers who come in contact with the president are required to wear full personal protective equipment, including yellow gowns, surgical masks and disposable protective eye goggles.
Conflicting statements from top advisers Wednesday created confusion over whether Trump has returned to work in the Oval Office – although it now appears he has not done so, but wants to get back to the office sometime this week.