BOSTON (CBS) – One of the treatments President Trump is receiving for the coronavirus is raising questions for some doctors.

The President’s doctors say Mr. Trump is taking a steroid called dexamethasone to combat inflammation. It was shown in a study to reduce mortality in patients severely ill with COVID-19.

Dr. Nicholas Smyrnios, a pulmonologist at UMass Memorial Hospital Medical Center says steroids, such as dexamethasone, have the potential to do harm as well.

“If he’s doing as well as we’re hearing then he wouldn’t fall into the group of patients who saw the benefit from that drug and steroids have side effects,” Smyrnios said. “One of the side effects is reducing your immune system and potentially making the infection worse so there’s a little conflict there.”

Other side effects of the drug include an increase in blood sugar, insomnia, agitation, and in extreme cases, mania.

Mr. Trump is also receiving a 5-day course of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir that is shown to reduce the length of illness for COVID-19.

“The trials that have been completed have shown this short duration of illness from an average of 15 days to an average of 11 days,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, Chief of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center.

Remdesivir was the subject of several trials in Boston. Boucher says, right now, the drug is typically given to the very ill.

“At least hypoxia, or an oxygen saturation level below 94 percent,” Boucher said.

His physicians say President Trump received supplemental oxygen on Friday.

Louisa Moller

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