US President Donald Trump is infected with the coronavirus, but feels good, his personal doctor and his wife Melania said. Still, statistically, 74-year-old Trump is in a group where Covid-19 can strike harder than other patients. His age, weight, and gender are not in his favor.
Sean Conley, the White House doctor, writes in a letter that Donald Trump is still fine. ‘Rest assured that I expect the president to continue to perform his duties without interruption during his healing process,’ he added optimistically. During Trump’s annual medical checkups – which receive a lot of attention time and again – the president was always officially healthy.
But there are also objective factors that are statistically detrimental to Trump. For example, we have known for some time that older people are more likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19 infection than younger people.
This can also be determined in the mortality figures. The bottom line: the older you are, the more likely you are to be admitted to the hospital and die from it. In the US, 8 in 10 corona deaths are age 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Trump is 74, so he is in that higher, riskier age bracket. The mortality rate of people between 65 and 74 years old is around 10.4 percent. That age group is also five times more likely to be hospitalized than patients between 18 and 29 years old.
In addition, he is visibly overweight and also with high cholesterol. Donald Trump weighed 110 kg at his last medical check, for a height of 1.90 m. That brings his BMI to 30.47, putting him in the severely overweight or obese category. According to a study, 1 in 3 of seriously ill corona patients in intensive care was found to be obese.
The CDC also says that a BMI above 30 “increases the risk of serious disease from Covid-19” and that overweight people are three times more likely to end up in hospitals than those without underlying conditions.
Finally, it soon became apparent after the outbreak of the pandemic that men are more susceptible to infection with the new coronavirus than women. According to a large-scale European study, this could be related to a higher level of a specific protein in the blood that the virus uses to enter our cells.
Mortality rates for men are also higher than those for women. According to the CDC, 54 percent of corona deaths are men and 46 percent women. In the age category of Trump (65 to 74 years), the ratio is 61.2 percent vs. 38.8 percent against the men.
On the other hand, the president of the US is no “ordinary” patient. He can count on the very best medical care, which was not the case for many American Covid-19 patients who died. And in general, the vast majority of Covid-19 patients survive the disease and have a mild or even asymptomatic disease course.
Trump is not the first leader to be infected
He tested positive at the end of February. Ironically, Iraj Harirchi had held a press conference the day before. He tried to minimize the impact of the outbreak in his country. He then ran a handkerchief over his face several times to wipe away the sweat. He also looked uncomfortable.
In Canada, at the end of March, it was not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who contracted the virus, but his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (45). The Prime Minister went into home isolation for 14 days, while the first lady quickly recovered from her mild symptoms. She caught the virus in London.
There it turned out in early April that Boris Johnson (56), the prime minister of Great Britain, had tested positive. Although he initially stated that he had a mild version of the disease, he later ended up in the hospital. Johnson turned out to be in serious condition at one point and ended up in the intensive care unit. After about a week, he was allowed to go home.
Another leader who was hospitalized for the coronavirus was the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, 51. He and his wife were found to be infected in mid-June. After more than two weeks in the hospital, Hernández recovered.
Not much later, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (65) was also found to be infected with the lung virus. His wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, was also infected. The Brazilian, who previously regularly downplayed the virus while his country is in second place in the most deaths from Covid-19, wore a face mask when announcing his infection.
In August, he announced that he has cured thanks to hydroxychloroquine. This drug has no scientifically proven effective against the virus. Since then, Bolsonaro has tried to use the infection – and overcoming the disease – mainly as an asset, a testament to his strength.
Italian former government leader Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized in September because of the coronavirus. The 83-year-old at-risk patient feared for his life but was able to leave the hospital after just over a week. Earlier, he described his infection with the coronavirus from his sickbed as the worst experience of his life.
The only political leader who may have died of Covid-19 was Burundi’s president if only rumors. According to the government, Pierre Nkurunziza (55) died of a heart attack, his wife Denise was simultaneously in the hospital because of a corona infection.
US president to leave office due to serious illness
As a Covid-19 patient, Donald Trump is not the first US president to face a serious medical problem while in office. Previously, three presidents temporarily transferred power to their vice president, as many became seriously ill, and four others died of natural causes. They were all in the office.
Under the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was enacted in 1967, a president who is medically incapable of running the country may temporarily hand over power to the vice president. The president can then reclaim that power at any time if he considers himself fit for the job again. Since 1967, only three presidents have put this into practice.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan underwent a colonoscopy and, therefore, briefly handed over power to Vice President George Bush. Reagan did not explicitly invoke the 25th Amendment at the time. President George W. Bush did. Even twice – in 2002 and 2007 – for the same medical procedure, particularly an endoscopic examination of the colon. It was then-Vice President Dick Cheney who took over twice temporarily.
Three US presidents fell seriously ill during their tenure. After being infected with influenza, George Washington flirted with death in 1790 during the second year of his presidency.
In 1919, Woodrow Wilson fell ill at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I. He was probably also struck by the flu virus. The weakened Wilson also suffered a major stroke in October 1919 but remained president until early March 1921. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack during his first term and a stroke during his second.
Four presidents in office died of natural causes: William Henry Harrison (1841), Zachary Taylor (1850), Warren G. Harding (1923), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1945). Harrison died on the 32nd day of his presidency in 1841 at the age of 68.
Four other presidents were assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), and John F. Kennedy (1963).
And now President Donald Trump has been hit by the coronavirus. It remains to be seen how sick he will become if he develops symptoms at all. Should Trump and Vice President Pence both find themselves unable to function as US leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be given that responsibility. In that case, the presidency would pass from the Republicans to the Democrats.