BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo, spoke with 2 On Your Side's Claudine Ewing about President Trump's health following his positive COVID-19 test.
Ewing: President Trump went through a very concerning period over the last day. What is it that doctors are keeping a close eye on?
Russo: Well, they are keeping an eye on a number of things, most importantly his vital signs. Is his blood pressure OK? Is his heart rate down to a normal level? And most importantly, his oxygenation level, making sure he's getting good oxygen in his lungs, and since this respiratory virus can cause pneumonia, that's an absolute critical thing to keep an eye on.
Ewing: What do we know about the drug he is being given?
Russo: The president is being given two drugs. The first is Remdesivir, and that is an anti-viral drug, and that prevents the virus from replicating in cells, and that's an FDA-approved. The second drug that he's been given is still in clinical trials. It's an experimental drug, and it's a cocktail of monoclone antibodies. They are very specific, directed against viral part, in this case the spite protein that enables the coronoavirus to enter cells.
Ewing: Is that drug also part of a clinical trial here in Buffalo?
Russo: It is. The UBMD physician group that are part of University at Buffalo, in collaborating at ECMC, have an approved clinical trial so that patients infected with the coronavirus can potentially be enrolled.
Ewing: The president is in his 70s. Does that make his health even more of a concern with COVID?
Russo: We've learned over the last several months there are a number of risk factors for a more serious or bad outcome. One of them is increasing age, and the president is 74; that's not quite optimal. We also know males don't do as well as females. We know this is a tricky virus, and individuals could do well over the first few days, and then somewhere around day seven or 10, they might take a turn for the worst, and this is usually due to the body overreacting to the virus and having a very profound and inflammatory response, which could cause some damage.
Ewing: There was a debate, last week and we know there was some close proximity between Joe Biden and President Trump. Should Joe Biden be concerned?
Russo: I think he should be concerned. We do know that people who are infected with the coronavirus are infectious perhaps at the highest level for 24 or 48 hours before symptoms develop, and President Trump was shown to be infected and have symptoms on Thursday, and the debate was Tuesday night. So I think it was highly likely that President Trump was infectious at that time.