Trump is being treated like he’s past the 10 day window after infection: Yale School of Public Health Professor

President Trump remains hospitalized after testing for the coronavirus. Howie Forman - Yale School of Public Health Professor joins Yahoo Finance’s On The Move panel to weigh in.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Let's talk now more about President Trump's condition and what we can potentially expect next, that is, from what we know thus far. As I mentioned, there has been mixed messaging on the president's condition, including from the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley. He spoke yesterday reversing some of the comments he had made the prior day.

SEAN CONLEY: I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had. I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true.

JULIE HYMAN: So we're all still trying to figure out what will happen today. Some of those physicians have said they would consider releasing the president, discharging the president, from the hospital today. But again, it is unclear what is going to happen next. To try to make sense of all of this, we're joined now by our Anjalee Khemlani as well as Dr. Howard Forman, Yale School of Public Health professor. Dr. Forman, it's always good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

As we try to suss out what the president's condition is, we do know a little bit about the timeline of his diagnosis. And we know about what various treatments he is on. What do you make of this situation and the sort of little bit of confusion over what we know?

HOWARD FORMAN: First, thanks for having me. You know, they've been giving us whatever information they want to give us. So we're really relying on information flow. And as Dr. Conley said, we're not necessarily trying to not tell you things. I mean, it's not clear that they're really giving us even truthful information at times. What we do know confidently, I think, is that the president was diagnosed on Thursday.

There are indications that he had symptoms perhaps on Wednesday. But that's speculation, but probably an informed speculation. We also know that a man of his age would be likely to develop symptoms later than a typical patient infected with this. So it's very possible that the day that he was diagnosed may have been day seven, day eight, day nine after infection. Based on the way they're treating him, it makes it sound like he is later on in infection then they're revealing to us because they're treating him almost as though he's past, like, the 10-day window after infection, which is a time when things presumably would declare themselves well enough.

So we're really-- you know, again, we're taking whatever information they give us and trying to infer from that. The use of the monoclonal antibody cocktail, the use of the remdesivir, and the use of the dexamethasone on Saturday would indicate that he's later in the course and other statements of fact from the White House and from his doctors.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Dr. Forman, Anjalee here. I know that you've been following the timeline pretty closely and trying to help us and figure out exactly when the president may have actually contracted the virus. But in your indication right now of it being later in, you know, the time period, is there any concern about the types of treatment that he's getting, including that antibody cocktail that no one else really has access to, plus dexamethasone, plus remdesivir. What should we take from that? What should we be able to assess from that?

HOWARD FORMAN: Yeah, it's certainly very confusing. The antibody cocktail is typically given to people in an outpatient basis once they've been diagnosed. It's proven to work-- or I shouldn't say "proven." But in early trials, we have evidence that it works better in patients that have high viral load and haven't yet declared antibodies themselves. It would be nice to know that the White House would tell us that they drew antibody titers and that he does or does not have antibodies at the time they started that cocktail.

We know that that is intended to prevent the virus from getting into cells. So we're really trying to treat people very early on in the cycle of the disease. Same thing for remdesivir, which presumably protects from replication of the virus within the cells. So both of those prevent the virus from acting. Dexamethasone, on the other hand, is used to reduce inflammation. We use dexamethasone in this particular case to prevent the immune system from getting out of control.

People have talked about this as being cytokine storm, The president's doctors have implied that he has findings on his either radiographs or CT scans that are consistent with COVID. That is, you know, where I practice medicine. And that typically is referred to as COVID pneumonia. That's typically a later finding. But again, they have not been clear with exactly what's going on.

And by the way, this is a problem with presidencies in both parties going back decades and decades. So this is one of those few things where I think there is bipartisanship in terms of obscuring information.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And we all know the stories from our history classes about FDR always in the car, never seen with the crutches, the whole thing. I have a question for you, Doctor. Good to see you. So let's assume what they're telling us is true. How long after someone has fought this disease do they remain contagious? Because we have three Republican senators who are also contagious. And Mitch McConnell's talking about, they got to get back by October 19 to vote.

HOWARD FORMAN: Yeah, so what we typically say is-- I believe the current standard is three days after symptoms have resolved, which, in the case of somebody like the president, who's on dexamethasone, would really be three days after the dexamethasone is over. Because the dexamethasone would presumably obscure those symptoms. We know that people can test positive for up to three months after infection. And we know that, in most of those people, they're not infectious at all.

So there is no exact science about this. Our recommendation is to quarantine for two weeks after being in close contact with someone who is infected. This is why it is so important for the White House to actually do appropriate contact tracing and surveillance of the entire complex to figure out when this started, who are the actual contacts, and to be able to figure out who may or may not still be infectious.

JULIE HYMAN: Indeed, important work that has to be done. Howie Forman, Yale School of Public Health professor. And if I may, after that very serious topic, a lighter one, we want to wish you a happy birthday, Howie. And great to get your perspective, as always. Thank you.

HOWARD FORMAN: Thank you very much. Take care.