The main difference between Trump’s infection — which landed him in Walter Reed Military Medical Center for three nights — and Biden’s are the vaccines, experts say.
Biden has received four doses to date, developing a high level of protection against hospitalization and death. When Trump contracted the virus, there were no vaccines available.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in Januaryduring the height of the Omicron wave, an unvaccinated person was 12 times more likely to be hospitalized than a boosted person.
“However, it’s a very different scenario to talk about a Covid infection and someone who has been vaccinated four times versus someone who has not been vaccinated,” said Céline Gounder, a physician at Bellevue Hospital and epidemiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. in a statement. an interview in May. “And I think that message is still not getting through to people — that the vaccines are really very effective in preventing hospitalization and death.”
Without access to vaccines, Trump was at a much higher risk of the infection.
“[Trump] would have been pretty sick — at his age, predicted he would be pretty sick,” said Eric Topol, a physician, professor of molecular medicine, and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “And actually, he was.”
Biden also has new treatment options to help fight the infection, including Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid.
“We know that Paxlovid is also very effective at keeping people out of the hospital,” Gounder said.
Pfizer’s antiviral Covid-19 pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk patients who had symptoms for three days or less, according to research results the company released in December.
While recurrences are possible with the antiviral — a problem still under investigation — it remains a very effective solution and another level of protection.
When Trump had Covid-19, he was given a monoclonal antibody treatment made by Regeneron, as well as remdesivir, an antiviral drug.
Monoclonal antibody treatment is also an option for Biden, if needed, experts said, but it doesn’t work as well as — and there are fewer options for treatment — compared to when Trump was infected.
“We’re running out of opportunities for monoclonal antibodies to help. There’s so much immune escape for this variant,” Topol said of the Omicron variant, including subvariants such as BA.2 and BA.5.
The new strains of the virus, now much more transferable than the original version, are another difference.
Trump caught a less contagious but more virulent strain, public health experts say.
The virus is still evolving, with several sub-variants popping up around the world recently.
“There is a small risk of [Biden] with severe covid – serious illness – and needs hospitalization,” Topol said. “Fortunately, that risk is small, but it has increased as the virus evolved into these much more difficult variants.”
While treatments may be less effective due to new strains of the virus, the dominant variants circulating today are not known to be significantly more lethal than previous versions.
Another difference between Biden’s and Trump’s infections is their comorbidity.
“The main risk factor for Trump was his obesity, and we know that put a significant risk for Covid,” Topol said. “Obviously that’s not a problem with Biden. I’m not aware of any other comorbidities Biden has outside of his age.”
While extensive medical records are not available, both administrations have released some details about Trump and Biden’s health. In 2020, just before Trump was infected, the White House released his physical. Trump weighed 244 pounds and stood 6 feet, 3 inches. That meets the clinical definition of obesity and puts him at higher risk of hospitalization from Covid-19, According to the CDC. Biden is a shade less than 6 feet tall and weighs 184 pounds, according to his physique.
Biden is 79 years old. Trump was 74 when he got Covid. According to the CDC, the risk increases for those over 50 and more for those over 60, 70 and 80. People aged 85 and older are most likely to become very ill.
Biden may still be susceptible to prolonged Covid. The post-viral condition, which sometimes includes severe fatigue, persistent breathing problems or cognitive impairment, is not yet well understood.
Experts note that the extensive list of symptoms has turned some off, even those who have been vaccinated. Although a minority of infected people experience Covid for a long time, according to early datawell over a million people in the UK have reported persistent symptoms of Covid-19.