The world is watching and stock markets are on edge after U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced on Twitter that they were infected with COVID-19.
But with one month left until the U.S. presidential election, it is unclear what — if any — effect that diagnosis could have on the divisive and unpredictable campaign playing out south of the border.
Trump is not the only national leader or political figure to contract the highly contagious coronavirus: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became seriously ill in late March and early April.
Keiran Pedley, director of politics for Ipsos MORI in the U.K., said the polling firm noted an uptick in public sympathy for Johnson that translated — briefly — into stronger polling among voters.
However, it didn’t last long.
The nature of the virus itself also makes predictions difficult.
Trump, at the age of 74, is in a demographic that has so far seen more serious effects from the virus. He is also overweight — just shy of the medical classification for obesity — with high cholesterol and infrequent exercise, as well as some evidence of heart disease.
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But not everyone who contracts the virus or even suffers serious symptoms dies. Johnson himself had serious symptoms and was hospitalized in intensive care, which led to the leadership of the country being temporarily designated to foreign secretary Dominic Raab.
The virus, however, can move quickly as it attacks its infected host.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told journalists on Friday morning that Trump is so far exhibiting “mild symptoms” of the virus, and Melania Trump also tweeted she was feeling similar effects.
“The American people can rest assured that we have a president that is not only on the job, will remain on the job and I’m optimistic that he’ll have a very quick and speedy recovery,” said Meadows.
Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife have tested negative for the virus.
With 31 days left until the election on Nov. 3, Trump is trailing Democratic candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden in the polls.
Biden’s campaign said on Friday that he has tested negative for the virus.
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