WWhen the White House insisted this weekend that Donald Trump was in a “good mood” he had “mild symptoms” and was working hard, even though an apparently weakened president was helicopter-bound to the hospital, the optimistic official comments all had a familiar sound in London.
When Boris Johnson fell ill with the coronavirus in March, Downing Street was just as optimistic. The country was repeatedly told that the condition was mild and the irrepressible prime minister was swaggering soldier Churchill.
Even when he was hospitalized on the night of April 5, the nation was assured he was in a “good mood” and it was just a “precautionary” measure, just as the White House insisted on Trump’s helicopter trip to the Walter Reed hospital on Friday night. it was for “plenty of caution”.
Britain later found that the government account of Johnson’s disease had greatly downplayed its severity. It was a shock to the public when the prime minister was transferred to intensive care.
Trump is the third of the world’s populist leaders to discover that swagger and wishful thinking cannot compete with a virus that is indifferent to both. Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro, who had dismissed the coronavirus as little more than a common cold and kept mingling with the crowd of supporters, fell ill in July and spent three weeks in solitary confinement before finally being declared free of Covid.
For reasons that have yet to be fully understood, every coronavirus patient’s experience is different. It can be completely without noticeable symptoms; it can be lethal. Bolsonaro appears to have had a mild form of the disease, which he attributed to his “athlete background”. Johnson became seriously ill. He came out of the hospital in awe of the NHS men and women, saying, “I owe them my life.”
At 74, Trump is significantly older and less fit than Bolsonaro, 65, and 55-year-old Johnson. On the other hand, understanding and treatment of the virus has progressed since March. The trajectories of the other two leaders say little about what the president of the United States is facing now.
The fortunes of Johnson and Bolsonaro, since their recovery, are also of little use in predicting how it will affect Trump’s chances if he too is able to shake off the virus in time for the November 3 election.
Johnson benefited from an increase in public esteem in March, although poll group YouGov pointed out that “the surge had already occurred by March 23, four days before the prime minister announced he had Covid-19.
His chaste post-infection gratitude to the NHS has improved his popular image, but that lead has since been squandered through repeated U-turns of Covid policy and the government’s continued cover-ups and double standards, in the case of the carefree wandering around. England by Johnson. special adviser, Dominic Cummings, while others observed restrictions, for example.
Bolsonaro’s approval ratings remain high and have also seen a recent rise, likely driven in part by an emergency cash payment aimed at helping poorest families through the crisis, but analysts say his survival and rebound played a role.
“His rapid recovery helped solidify the narrative that the virus is not that bad,” said Oliver Stuenkel, head of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo.
Unlike Johnson, the Brazilian president does not appear to have been temporarily reprimanded by the experience, recently telling a crowd in the agricultural heartland of Mato Grosso: “This weak talk of staying at home is for sissies.”
Bolsonaro’s troubles still await him. Brazil was one of the countries most affected by the pandemic. Nearly 150,000 people died. GDP is expected to contract by at least 5% and the end of the emergency cash payment will have to cease at some point.
Johnson is also facing a collapse in popularity and a gloomy economic outlook. The UK has the worst coronavirus toll in Europe, with 56,000 deaths and a second wave hitting the country. But Johnson doesn’t have to run for elections until 2024. Bolsonaro’s next election won’t be until 2022. The US elections are in a month’s time.
The degree to which Trump will benefit from a post-Covid rebound will largely depend on the speed and modalities of his hoped-for recovery.
Will this affect whether he is seen as weakened or will the myth of invincibility be strengthened? A sympathetic response to a poll by a pollster is different from the decision made at the polling station on whether to give the same leader four more years. Under conditions entirely new to the world, the past of other leaders is unlikely to prove a prologue for Donald Trump.