Trump's Battle with COVID Was More Severe Than Publicly Shared: Report

The former president’s inflamed lungs and low blood oxygen levels led staffers to think he would need a ventilator, according to reporting from The New York Times

donald trump
President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House from the hospital on Oct. 5. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump's illness with COVID-19 was more severe than what his administration and doctors revealed at the time, and they at one point thought he would need to be put on a ventilator, according to reporting from The New York Times.

Sources told the outlet that Trump had extremely low blood oxygen levels at times during his illness and developed lung infiltrates, when the lungs become inflamed and substances, typically filled with fluid or bacteria, form, a symptom typically associated with pneumonia.

According to the Times, Trump's blood oxygen levels went down in to the 80s, when they should be above 95. His oxygen level was so low that staffers thought that he would need a ventilator before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2.

PEOPLE has contacted representatives for Trump for comment.

Trump announced just after midnight on Oct. 2 that he and former First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, and would "begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately." Though he and White House doctor Sean Conley downplayed his symptoms throughout the day, by that evening Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed, and other administration officials said that his vitals were "very concerning."

Over the course of the weekend, Conley continued to say that Trump's illness was "nothing of any major clinical concern" while also reporting that he had given the president intensive steroids, the antiviral drug remdesivir and a not-yet-FDA-approved antibody treatment from pharmaceutical company Regeneron.

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The Times now reports that a lawyer at the White House called FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn on Oct. 1 to see if the agency could quickly approve the Regeneron treatment for use on two senior officials, whom he did not name. The doses were for Trump and the First Lady, though she declined her dose once they were obtained.

Trump returned to the White House on Oct. 5, earlier than expected, and improved in the weeks after. According to the Times, he would tell aides that Regeneron was the reason he was alive, and say "I'm proof it works." It has since been approved for use on patients nationwide, but at the time of Trump's illness it was not available for the thousands of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19.

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