Donald Trump has claimed his coronavirus infection was “a blessing from God” and that “China will pay” for what the pandemic has done to the US in a bizarre Twitter video.
In the new White House video posted on Wednesday evening (local time), the president also credited an experimental antibody drug treatment with helping his recovery from Covid-19 and vowed to distribute it to all Americans for free.
Trump received an antiviral cocktail made by Regeneron through a “compassionate use” exemption, a recognition of the above-and-beyond standard of care he receives as president.
The safety and effectiveness of the drug have not yet been proven. And there is no way for the president or his doctors to know that the drug had any effect.
He promised to swiftly get the drugs approved for use — and distribute it at no cost — even though he does not have the power to order that himself.
“Hi, perhaps you recognise me, it’s your favourite president,” Trump began the video, adding that he was returning to the Oval Office for the first time since he returned from Walter Reed military medical centre after being hospitalised late Friday night.
He thanked his doctors, as well as physicians and nurses around the country, before then claiming he asked for Regeneron himself.
“I went in and wasn’t feeling so hot and within a very short period of time they gave me Regeneron, and other things too but I think this was the key, and it was like unbelievable - I felt good immediately,” he said.
The 74-year-old claimed to have authorised for people feeling ill at hospital around the country to have access to the drug, but later said he had yet to sign any paperwork.
“I feel great, I feel perfect. I think this was a blessing from god that I caught it,” Trump said.
“It was my suggestions that I take it. It was incredible the way it worked. I want to get to you what I got, and I’m going to make it free,” he continued before then launching into a rant about China.
“It wasn’t your fault that this happened, it was China’s fault and China’s going to pay a big price what they’ve done to this country.
“China’s going to pay a big price for what they’ve done to the world. This was China’s fault and just remember that,” the US president said.
It’s not the first time the president has trumpeted an unproven treatment. He spent months painting the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a miracle treatment for the virus — even taking a preventative course himself — even though experts have said it may not be effective against COVID-19.
In the video, Trump also continued to downplay the threat of the virus, promising those who are ill that they’re going to “get better fast just like I did,” even though more than 200,000 people in the US and more than a million worldwide have died from the disease.
He posted the video on Twitter after aides said he returned to the Oval Office for a briefing on Hurricane Delta, which is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, and on economic stimulus prospects - despite still being contagious two days after he was discharged from hospital.
Aides insisted that only limited staff were around him and that he entered the office from the outside to limit exposure.
Trump’s doctor reported on Wednesday that the president continued to make progress in his recovery.
Dr Sean Conley, the White House physician, said Trump had declared, “I feel great!”
Conley added in a memo that Trump had been symptom-free for over 24 hours, and that his oxygen saturation level and respiratory rate were normal.
The memo also said a blood test Monday showed Trump had coronavirus antibodies, substances that fight infection, but he had been given an experimental drug on Friday containing these.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. says it’s not possible for this type of blood test to distinguish between antibodies Trump’s body may be making and those supplied by the company’s drug. Most likely, the ones detected in the Monday test are from the drug, the company said.
WH Physician Sean Conley says Pres Trump “reports no symptoms” on the day after his return to the WH from 72 hours at Walter Reed. In a brief statement, Dr Conley reports the President’s oxygen saturation level is 95-97%. “Overall, he continues to do extremely well,” says Conley. pic.twitter.com/sWquH8dc4i— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 6, 2020
Still, Trump called the drug “the key” to his recovery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after symptom onset. While reports of reinfection are rare, the CDC recommends that even people who recover from COVID-19 continue to wear a mask, stay distanced and follow other precautions.
Doctors said Trump began showing mild symptoms on Oct. 1.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.