President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 and “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”
Just how serious can COVID-19 be for someone of President Trump’s age and condition?
Everyone reacts differently to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, from no symptoms at all to life-threatening illness.
“What we’ve learned for sure is that the spectrum of illness from COVID-19 is tremendous,” said Dr. David Banach, an infectious diseases physician at UConn Health and hospital epidemiologist at the UConn John Dempsey Hospital.
President Trump has several risk factors that put him on the more worrisome end of the spectrum, but others that counterbalance the risk.
His age, weight and gender all add to his vulnerability.
Trump turned 74 in June, putting him at five-times higher risk of hospitalization and 90-times higher risk of death than someone in their 20s, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just a year older, and he’d be at eight-times higher risk of hospitalization and 220-times higher risk of death.
The President’s weight-to-height ratio bumps him just over the boundaries of what’s considered obese, putting him at three-times higher risk of a serious infection compared to someone at a healthier weight, according to the CDC.
Being male also puts Trump at higher risk. Just over 54% of Americans who have died of COVID-19 have been male, while 46% have been female; in Trump’s age group, 61% of the deaths have been among men.
The First Lady, who also tested positive for COVID-19, has none of these added risks, and so is likely to have a mild case of the disease.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 and “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.” (Photo: Getty)
The President also has a number of strengths to counteract his risks.
First, he’s healthy and very active.
He keeps a busy schedule for someone of his age, and his health does not appear to interfere with the activities of his daily life. Risk of serious COVID-19 illness is known to increase as medical conditions mount, with the highest risk among those who have three or more comorbidities, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, severe obesity, coronary artery disease, history of stroke, and a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
Trump also has access to the best possible medical care, potentially including some therapies that could reduce his risk of having a bad case of COVID-19.
Although no therapies have yet been approved, there are several under development that can be given after exposure to the virus and are likely to be safe and limit symptoms. It’s not clear whether Trump has received or will receive any of these.
Monoclonal antibodies, for instance, are proteins that help the immune system fight off a specific invader, and can be used to prevent, protect or treat many diseases. Several companies have been developing monoclonal