A new book reveals the inside story of the Trump administration’s pandemic response and the president’s own battle with COVID-19
At the time, officials insisted the president was admitted to Walter Reed National Medical Military Center ‘out of an abundance of caution.’
But ‘Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,’ by Washington Post reporters Damian Paletta and Yasmeen Abutaleb, paints a different picture.
It reveals that at least two of those briefed on the president’s condition during that weekend last October feared that he ‘wouldn’t make it out of Walter Reed.’
And people close to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he was ‘consumed with fear’ that Trump might die.
The book details how the president’s condition spiralled downward, with a spiking fever and his blood oxygen dipping dangerously below 90 percent. He was given oxygen while still at the White House.
An unorthodox operation was already under way to ensure the president was getting the very best available treatment.
Donald Trump made a theatrical return to the White House after being released from Walter Reed National Medical Military Center after a three-day stay in October when he fell badly ill with COVID-19. Aides feared he ‘wouldn’t make it out’ of the hospital and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, reportedly was ‘consumed with fear’ he would die
Trump took off his mask and gave a double thumbs up when he arrived back at the White House. Onlookers were horrified that he entered the residence without a mask
Aides appealed directly to Trump’s FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn for ‘compassionate use’ authorization for experimental monoclonal antibody treatment. he consulted with his officials, according to the new account. ‘The FDA needs to go by the book, the officials insisted. Hahn relayed the message back to the White House,’ it continued. ‘They kept pressing him to effectively cut corners’
An excerpt published in the Washington Post revealed that Trump’s aides appealed directly to Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, for permission to use experimental monoclonal antibody treatment.
There is a standard procedure for the FDA to sign off on the use of unapproved drugs for ‘compassionate use’ when all other options have been exhausted. But officials wanted it done faster.
‘The White House wanted Hahn to say yes within hours. Hahn, who still did not know who the application was for, consulted career officials,’ the book revealed.
‘The FDA needs to go by the book, the officials insisted. Hahn relayed the message back to the White House.
‘They kept pressing him to effectively cut corners.
‘No, we can’t do that, Hahn told them several times. We’re talking about someone’s life. We have to actually examine the application to make sure we’re doing it safely.’
He was stunned to learn that the application was for the president, who at 74 and overweight made for a difficult case.
In the end, the decision was made within 24 hours after officials had worked out the best type of treatment.
He received an eight-gram dose of two monoclonal antibodies via intravenous tube at the White House as well as a dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir.
‘Trump’s doctors threw everything they could at the virus all at once,’ the excerpt continued.
‘His condition appeared to stabilize somewhat as the day wore on, but his doctors, still fearing he might need to go on a ventilator, decided to move him to the hospital.
CDC director Robert Redfield was one of the advisers who hoped the president’s brush with COVID-19 would change his approach to the pandemic and force him to take it more seriously
White House medical advisers hoped this first-hand experience would inspire the president to take the pandemic more seriously.
‘Perhaps now, they thought, he would encourage Americans to wear masks and put his health and medical officials front and center in the response,’ report the authors.
‘Instead, Trump emerged from the experience triumphant and ever more defiant.’
He was admitted to hospital on a Friday and said he was already feeling better the next day.
‘This is like a miracle,’ Trump told his campaign adviser Jason Miller in a phone call.
‘I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t feeling that great.’
He returned to the White House on the Monday, arriving on the south lawn aboard Marine One.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was watching on television from home as the president climbed the stairs to the Truman Balcony, took off his mask and raised his thumbs to the camera, before entering the White House despite probably still being contagious.
‘Right then, Redfield knew it was over,’ the book revealed.
‘Trump showed in that moment that he hadn’t changed at all. The pandemic response wasn’t going to change, either.’
‘Nightmare Scenario’ will be published June 29 by HarperCollins.