As a corticosteroid that suppresses the immune system, dexamethasone is typically used for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients with severe cases.
Conley noted that Trump is being treated with the drug because his oxygen levels dropped twice since he was diagnosed with coronavirus.
According to Bob Wachter, chair of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, “both of those pieces of data tell us you cannot call this a mild disease.”
Conley and White House officials have been releasing conflicting information about the president’s condition and dodging questions from the press, but when Conley revealed that Trump was given two liters of supplemental oxygen it became clear why he was treated with dexamethasone, Wachter said.
“Obviously, he’s getting world-class care, but I think you have to say he falls in a group that still has a significant chance of having a bad outcome, going to the ICU, requiring that kind of care and maybe even dying,” he explained.
Other experts were of a similar opinion.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, described dexamethasone use as a “very clear signal that he has a more severe disease.”
Jha added that it remains unclear whether Trump will suffer long-term damage to his lungs and said that his condition could “get worse” in the coming days.
In a Twitter thread, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding described dexamethasone treatment as a “pretty extreme sign.”
“It’s mostly been reserved for patients on ICU or ventilated — occasionally for patients on oxygen,” he said of the drug.
Ilan Schwartz, an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alberta, tweeted that Trump’s condition is likely more serious than the White House claims.
“To me, this suggests he is worse than they are letting on,” he wrote.
Dr. Abraar Karan echoed these sentiments, pointing out that Conley’s suggestion that Trump could be discharged as early as Monday seemed rather unusual.
— Dr. Abraar Karan (@AbraarKaran) October 4, 2020
As journalist Judd Legum pointed out via Twitter, Trump has been given several drugs so far. According to information released by Conley and others, he has been given regeneron, remdesivir and famotidine.
The president has also taken zinc, vitamin D and aspirin.
However, Trump has not yet been given the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he and other Republicans have long touted as a miracle cure for coronavirus.