Why Biden’s bout with COVID-19 is likely to be easier than Trump’s

Almost two years separate the COVID-19 diagnoses of then-President Trump and current President Biden. In a pandemic that has taken the full power of America’s medical and scientific institutions, that’s a lifetime.

And for Biden — a few months from turning 80 and entering the age group at highest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 — it could be a lifeline.

The president is said to be working in isolation from the White House and has “very mild symptoms,” including a runny nose and fatigue, and “an occasional dry cough,” according to his doctor, Dr. Kevin O’Connor.

Biden has received two primary doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine and has been boosted twice, making him “maximally protected,” O’Connor said.

President Biden receives a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in September.

President Biden receives a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in September.

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

In accordance with protocols recommending immediate use of an antiviral drug for newly infected people at risk of serious illness, the President has started treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. He takes three of the pills twice a day for five days.

That should “provide additional protection against serious illnesses,” O’Connor said. In non-hospitalized patients at high risk of progression to serious disease, treatment with Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 88%.

But if Biden develops worrisome symptoms — like low oxygen levels or abnormalities in the way his heart or kidneys are working — his doctors can respond with a small arsenal of drugs and procedures developed in the last 2½ years of a grueling pandemic that’s close to landed is, were refined 5 million patients in US hospitals.

In contrast, consider the danger Trump was in when he contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 at the age of 74.

While in generally robust health, Trump was obese, a strong risk factor for developing a severe case of COVID. He was also unvaccinated, with the first Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still more than two months away when he tested positive for coronavirus infection 21 months ago.

In its most recent assessment of the impact of the vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated that for people age 65 and older, unvaccinated people are 3.8 times more likely to end up in hospital with COVID-19 than their peers who have been fully vaccinated and have received a single booster dose.

Protection from death is even stronger. As of May 22, unvaccinated people aged 65 to 79 were 6.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their fully vaccinated peers. Getting a booster shot widened that gap: In the Biden and Trump age group, the unvaccinated were nearly nine times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their vaccinated and boosted peers.

The course of Trump’s illness tells the story.

Within a day of his positive test, the 45th President was rushed to Walter Reed Naval Medical Center after his oxygen levels dropped precipitously and suddenly.

There he was quickly treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has been found to benefit COVID-19 patients and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in an emergency situation. And as part of a program designed to make experimental drugs still available to patients in extreme circumstances, Trump received an antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron more than a month before it was approved by the FDA.

In a sign that doctors were deeply concerned about Trump’s prognosis, doctors also administered the steroid dexamethasone. This workhorse drug has been life-saving for many patients. However, its use is only considered safe in people who are at high risk of developing an overactive inflammatory response to COVID-19, which can lead to organ failure and death.

President Trump removes his mask as he returns to the White House after receiving treatment for COVID-19.

President Trump removes his mask as he returns to the White House after being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in October 2020.

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The particular coronaviruses that infected the two presidents also dealt them very different hands.

In early fall 2020, Trump likely faced a version of the virus very similar to the one that left Wuhan, China, in the final months of 2019.

Compared to the BA.5 omicron subvariant, which now accounts for an estimated 78% of cases in the United States, the “ancestor” strain caused more severe disease. Coupled with doctors’ inexperience in treating patients with the novel coronavirus, 2020 was a more dangerous time to contract the virus that causes COVID-19.

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2022-07-21/why-bidens-bout-with-covid-19-is-likely-to-be-easier-than-trumps Why Biden’s bout with COVID-19 is likely to be easier than Trump’s

Alley Einstein

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