News18»Lifestyle » health and fitness
3-MIN READ

Trump Still Contagious? Experts Say It's Impossible To Know

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump holds his mask after removing it from his face as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He announced he tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump holds his mask after removing it from his face as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He announced he tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump said Thursday he doesn't think he's contagious anymore, but medical experts say that's impossible to know a week after his diagnosis with COVID19.

NEW YORK: President Donald Trump said Thursday he doesn’t think he’s contagious anymore, but medical experts say that’s impossible to know a week after his diagnosis with COVID-19.

Most people with COVID-19 can stop isolating and be around others about 10 days after they first showed symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s provided their symptoms have improved, they have not had a fever for 24 hours and are no longer on any medication to reduce a high temperature. But there’s no way to know for certain that someone is no longer contagious so soon after falling ill, experts say.

At this point, theres no diagnostic test that tells you whether a person thats infected remains infectious, said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, who leads Stanford University’s virology labs. There is absolutely a chain of unknowns.

Trump’s doctors have said he had COVID-19 symptoms last Thursday, so he’d reach 10 days on Sunday. They reported Wednesday that he hasn’t had a fever for days and had been symptom-free for over 24 hours, while Trump said on Thursday that he was still taking dexamethasone, a steroid that can reduce fevers.

Trump’s aides were weighing travel options for the president, including trips for small events next week. During a telephone interview with Fox Business, Trump said Thursday: I think Im better to the point where Id love to do a rally tonight. He also said I dont think Im contagious at all.”

Since his return to the White House Monday evening, only a few staffers and no reporters have laid eyes on the president, who has announced updates to his condition via Twitter and a few online videos. His doctors haven’t held a press conference since Trump left the hospital, only releasing statements with limited information.

We who are watching from the outside only have intimations, Id even call them hints, about Trump’s health and when he might not be contagious, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Earlier this week, the presidents doctors suggested they would work closely with military medical research facilities and other laboratories on advanced diagnostic testing to determine when the president was no longer contagious, but did not elaborate. They have not released any details about his test results, including when Trump last had a negative virus test before he got sick.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the governments top infectious disease expert, said two negative PCR lab tests 24 hours apart are a key factor in determining whether someone is still contagious.

So, if the president goes 10 days without symptoms, and they do the tests that we were talking about, then you could make the assumption, based on good science, that he is not infected, Fauci said Thursday on MSNBC.

Sensitive lab tests like the PCR test detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Using these, the presidents medical team could hypothetically measure and track the amount of virus in samples over time, said Dr. William Morice, who oversees laboratories at the Mayo Clinic.

If they did daily testing, you could watch it go down,” Morice said. If his viral load is low, the chance he can spread the virus is low as well.

Another potential strategy: Take the president’s samples and try to get the virus to replicate in a cell culture, which would indicate its still active. This approach would be less sensitive than molecular tests and sometimes doesn’t work. And it wouldnt be scalable, or safe, to use it more widely for other COVID-19 patients.

It would take much longer, cost much more and we dont have that many laboratories that can do it, Schaffner said.

There is a third possibility: Novel tests available at some research labs that look for minute molecular evidence that the virus is still replicating in cells. But the technology is still too new to be used to rule out if someone is infectious, Pinsky said.

Youre not going to get perfection with any of these tests,” said Gigi Gronvall, of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “Thats why you need to think about other mechanisms of public health control like wearing masks, washing hands and keeping socially distant to stop the spread of coronavirus.

___

AP reporter Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


Next Story
Loading...