The White House has insisted that US president Donald Trump would continue to lead the country from hospital, as the president was transported to the Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday night after contracting coronavirus.
Mr Trump was transferred by helicopter to the presidential suite at the military medical centre just 13km (eight miles) north of the White House, less than 24 hours after he confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus.
The US president was injected with an experimental antibody cocktail at the White House following his coronavirus diagnosis.
The White House said Mr Trump’s expected stay of “a few days” at the hospital was precautionary and that he would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite.
Mr Trump, who is 74, is in a high-risk category for Covid-19. Shortly before his departure for the Walter Reed, the White House physician Sean Conley said that the president was being treated with an experimental cocktail of antibodies developed by biotech company Regeneron, as well as several medicines including famotidine and melatonin.
He walked out of the White House on Friday evening wearing a mask and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but did not speak before boarding Marine One.
Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president onboard the helicopter.
US president Donald Trump exits Marine One while arriving to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Photograph: Oliver Contreras/EPA
In a video message recorded before leaving for Walter Reed, Mr Trump said: “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out.”
“Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!” he wrote in his first tweet from the hospital on Friday night.
Just a month before the presidential election, Mr Trump’s revelation that he was positive for the virus came via an early morning tweet after he had returned from an afternoon political fundraiser.
He had gone ahead, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than a million people worldwide.
First lady Melania Trump also tested positive, the president said, and several others in the White House have too, prompting concern that the White House or even Mr Trump himself might have spread the virus further.
Other positive tests
Several administration officials pointed to the Rose Garden announcement of Mr Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as the possible connection between cases that spanned Washington on Friday.
Former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, the president of the University of Notre Dame, and at least two Republican senators who were also present at the event — Mike Lee and Thom Tillis — announced on Friday they had tested positive and were isolating.
Former counsellor to the US president Kellyanne Conway tested positive for Covid-19. Photograph: Eric Baradat/AFP
Mr Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, has also tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing “mild flu-like symptoms”.
Mr Trump’s immediate campaign events were all cancelled, and his next debate with Democrat Joe Biden, scheduled for October 15th, is now in question.
The president’s physician Sean Conley said Mr Trump was given an experimental antibody combination which is currently in clinical trials before attending hospital.
He added the president “remains fatigued but in good spirits” and that a team of experts was evaluating both the president and first lady in regard to next steps.
Late on Friday, Dr Conley issued an update that said Mr Trump is “doing very well” and is “not requiring any supplemental oxygen”.
But he said that, “in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy,” an antiviral medication.
The first lady, who is 50, has a “mild cough and headache,” Dr Conley reported, and the remainder of the first family, including the Trumps’ son Barron, who lives at the White House, tested negative.
Mr Trump’s doctor said he was being treated with an experimental drug aimed at supplying antibodies to help fight his coronavirus infection.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs. They attach to a virus and help it be eliminated, but it can take weeks for them to form. The drugs are purified versions of ones that seemed to work best in laboratory and animal tests.
Mr Trump is receiving a two-antibody combination drug that is currently in late-stage studies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
The company previously developed a successful treatment for Ebola using a similar approach.
It is given as a one-time treatment through an IV. Mr Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, said the drug was being given “as a precautionary measure”, and that the president was also taking zinc, vitamin D, an antacid called famotidine, melatonin and aspirin.
None of those have been proven to be effective against Covid-19. Mr Trump apparently is not receiving hydroxychloroquine, a drug he widely promoted that has been shown in many studies to be ineffective for preventing or treating Covid-19.
– Additional reporting from AP