- Donald Trump and Melania have tested positive for COVID19.
- He now has to quarantine for two weeks.
- Though he is in a higher risk group for significant illness, there is a high chance he will have a mild illness
- The most important American election in history is just a few weeks away.
- The outcome will be 'played' for electoral gain and might make a difference.
- The outcome of his infection and election will have significance for us all.
So Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID19.
He is likely to have picked up the virus from a young and healthy aide whose infection was detected by the daily (YES DAILY) testing performed on Trump and his team.
This really is huge! For one thing the election is only a few weeks away and he now has to follow the guidelines and quarantine for two weeks. Mass rallies will be cancelled and the next head to head debate with Jo Biden may well not go ahead. After the last one, the world gasps sigh of relief with that news.
|COVID19 infecting cells|
In the human sense, Trump is another overweight elderly American among the millions to be infected with the virus, but as I reflect on the news, its significance sinks in. Just as the American people are looking forward to the opportunity to continue or end the most bizarre presidency in history the importance of this single positive test cannot be understated.
Is Trump at particular risk of a significant illness?
Yes. He is old and obese. He is in a highly stressed job and his diet might not be optimal. However, there are also plenty of reasons why he will not be severely affected.
For one thing, unlike care workers and those looking after people who are ill with COVID19, or those living in cramped conditions, he is likely to have been exposed to a low viral load. The aide, I presume without symptoms, was also likely to be shedding low levels of virus and this is important in determining how the virus can take hold.
Highly sensitive PCR testing can pick up infinitesimally small amounts of viral RNA in well people.
Coupled with this, I am sure that Trump will have had every medical intervention to lower his risk. I can guarantee, like his leading medical expert Dr Fauci, who has stated he takes Vitamin D supplements, he will be have enough of this fundamental Vitamin on board. He has already stated he is taking hydroxychloroquine, shown to be ineffective in the unwell, though with some potential if poorly defined benefits in preventing illness.
Reports suggest he is also being given the higher 8g dose of an antibody cocktail which is currently being tested in trials. Add to this Vitamin D (thought so!), zinc, famotidine ( an antacid) zinc, melatonin and aspirin. An interesting cocktail! Dexamethasone has not been mentioned, though I'm sure will be considered if his condition deteriorates.
I am sure, if his diet is anything like the typical Americans, he will have his nutrition monitored and adjustments made with supplements. There have, however, been questions asked about he quality of his diet. He is partial, it seems, to health damaging highly processed food.
So I am certain that while his risks of significant illness will have been lowered as much as possible, his poor overall shape might be less than ideal. He has been reported as being in the obese category, just. (BMI 30.5)
Despite being president of the USA, surely one on the most time consuming jobs in earth, he has played plenty of golf, however, with electric golf buggies and caddies taking the physical load the presidential exercise involved in this could be minimal.
So he is more likely to do well than suffer the fate of the over 1 million people who have now succumbed to the disease? Time will tell. Of course, as common with COVID19, he might remain well for a week or more and then become unwell making the impact on the election more decisive still.
As I write, he is being helicoptered off to the military hospital reserved for ailing American presidents, as a precautionary measure it is said. We shall have to wait and see.
Playing the infection.
If he does well, expect "Superhuman" Trump to emerge just before the election triumphant against the scourge of COVID19. There may be Americans who see this as divine intervention, others not so. Any sight increase in his popularity would seal another four years of Trumpism.
On the other hand, he now joins Johnson and Bolsonaro, who despite the resources, facilities, advice and wealth available to them, have been careless enough to become infected, each with their own brand of reckless behaviour. Trump has shunned masks, and been keen on the mass rallies which are the bedrock of his campaigning, indeed appeal, where social distancing has not taken place.
|Social distancing - Trump style|
This might play into the hands of his opponents who have taken COVID measures more seriously. Trump was almost spitting at Biden only a few days ago. What are the odds on Joe Biden testing positive? This too would have a big impact on the election.
A significant illness, now or later, or the development of "long COVID" would leave Pence in charge. Might this improve the Republicans chances amongst the 10% of American voters who incredibly remain undecided? Pence is another climate denying radical evangelist keen on undeserved wealth and guns and would be unlikely to be less damaging than Trump.
I can see strategists, and there are lots of them in the Whitehouse, moulding this result and the daily medical briefings to the needs of election victory. There willI I'm sure be those who consider this to be staged for electoral gain. I can perhaps understand why and indeed, with politics as they are today, anything is possible.
One of the first things Trump did in the Whitehouse was to reduce spending on global family planning, cancelling any comprehensive programmes for women in the developing nations. This has resulted in thousands of deaths due to increases in unwanted pregnancies as well as the reduced access to safe abortions across the globe.
This set the tone for many interventions which damage all our prospects. He is a climate denier and if elected, would seal the departure from the Paris Climate Convention, reducing prospects for addressing this most fundamental and critical of issues we face. He has been lucky to be able to appoint three conservative Supreme Court judges in his term, the last an anti-abortion, advocate of extreme religious beliefs and guns, that paradox of so many American Christians to whom he plays.
In suspending funding for the WHO he was branded guilty of crimes against humanity by the Lancet, one of the worlds most respected medical journals.
His dithering and differing comments on the COVID pandemic cumulated with his comments on "Herd Mentality" when faced, almost uniquely, with real people asking real questions - a format unlikely to be repeated.
For these and many other reasons, he is the wrong leader taking the wrong actions at the wrong time. I am gloomily convinced that another four years of accelerating Trumpism or perhaps the age of Pence is something our species and many others cannot afford.
So my mind is now intermittently focused on Trump's most inner workings, both within his own body and within the network of strategists he has established in the Whitehouse. He will want to maximise the 'deal' his is currently negotiating with this virus.
In this age of global phenomena, the American election is important for us all.
There will be regular updates Im sure, and I expect that Trump's Twitter emissions will be as loud as ever, and if not, perhaps an early sign he might be genuinely unwell.
Another dice has been rolled and the future has just become that little bit more unpredictable.