‘Symptom-free’ Donald Trump returns to Oval Office touting experimental Covid-19 treatment

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By Shabtai Gold and Sophie Wingate

Washington – US President Donald Trump has been symptom-free for 24 hours and his vital signs are in the normal range, his physician said on Wednesday after Trump was hospitalized for coronavirus complications over the weekend.

The president subsequently made his first return to the Oval Office. The ceremonial Marine guard was stationed outside the building, a sign that the head of state was inside.

In a video posted to Twitter later, Trump appeared outside the Oval Office to tout the cutting-edge medicine he was treated with.

He said he “wasn’t feeling so hot” when he went to hospital, but “they gave me Regeneron … It was, like, unbelievable, I felt good immediately.”

Trump, who was given an experimental antibody cocktail produced by drug-maker Regeneron, said he wanted to approve the treatment through an emergency use authorization.

“I want to get for you what I got and I’m gonna make it free,” he said, adding there were “hundreds of thousands of doses that are just about ready.”

“That’s much more important to me than the vaccine,” Trump asserted, appearing energetic.

It is unclear to what extent the approval process for new medicines can be speeded up.

“I think this was a blessing from God that I caught” the coronavirus, he said, calling the therapeutic a “cure.”

Trump earlier tweeted that he had been briefed on a Hurricane Delta and had spoken with the governors of Louisiana and Texas, two states that might get hit.

The president is likely still infectious, having first reported symptoms on Thursday.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that there are “safety protocols” in place for the Oval Office.

“The president continues to work. He’s in very good health; we are pleased with his progress,” Meadows said several hours before Trump went to his desk.

The timeline of the president’s infection with coronavirus remains a mystery, in part as the White House refuses to disclose what it knows.

Trump tested positive on Thursday, after a busy week in which he hosted a massive Rose Garden ceremony to announce his Supreme Court pick, held campaign events and participated in the first presidential debate.

In addition to Trump, a number of White House staff, campaign aides and Republican lawmakers have tested positive for the new coronavirus since the end of last week – including people who were at the Rose Garden and on his debate preparation team.

The virus has infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts” in recent days – more people than previously known, ABC News reported, citing an internal government memo.

Meanwhile, the US Marines announced that General Gary Thomas, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, tested positive for the coronavirus. He is among multiple senior military leaders to be self-quarantining after a vice commandant of the US Coast Guard tested positive on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Brian Morgenstern, the deputy communications director for Trump, declined to reveal when the president last had a negative coronavirus test.

“We’re not asking to go back through a bunch of records and look backwards,” Morgenstern said. His boss, Kayleigh McEneny, is currently in quarantine after having tested positive.

Trump appeared without a mask on the White House’s Truman Balcony on Monday evening, after he left the hospital following a three-night stay.

The president has kept up a steady deluge of tweets on a wide range of topics, including retweeting a number of random accounts which had posted flattering comments on him.

Trump wants to participate in next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the second face-to-face leading up to the November election. Biden has insisted that Trump be virus-free.

Since being discharged from hospital, Trump has returned to comparing the coronavirus with the seasonal flu as he continued to downplay the pandemic and push for economic reopenings.

More than 211 000 people have died from the coronavirus since March in the United States, by far dwarfing annual figures on flu deaths.

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