Having previously revealed he mouthed the word “pain” as doctors moved his body while she watched over video call, Kate said she had been frightened that Derek could be “giving up” prior to the development.
“It is a huge breakthrough. Even though it’s obviously heart-breaking… that he feels pain,” she said.
“What it means is that he has been able to connect a sensation in his body with his brain and connect that with his mouth to shape the word ‘pain’.
“I believe he is in there, but it is a long way from being Derek with all his multiple words of many colours”.
“I was getting scared whether he might be giving up.
“And so, it feels like a fight for him. He’s been able to fight out of this to utter the word ‘pain’.
“But I’m trying to think of it as the first step, that’s he’s taken that feeling within him, he’s heard someone say ‘Let us know’ and … that is a sign, I’m hoping, of the beginning of the recovery.”
Later, she told ITV show Lorraine that Draper had drastically changed in appearance.
“He does look so different now,” she said. He has dropped “eight stone and is very weak and has also lost quite a lot of hair”.
Derek, a former lobbyist and political adviser, was placed in an induced coma after being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in March.
Kate has shared regular updates on her husband’s health through social media and on Good Morning Britain during the last seven months.
The couple - who are both 53 – married in 2005 and have a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, Darcey and William.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.