PARIS | His age – 74 – and his overweight place Donald Trump in a risk category for COVID-19, but that is far from sufficient to predict how severely the US president may be affected by the disease.
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Age, a major risk
It has been clear since the start of the pandemic: the older we get, the greater the risk of having a severe form of COVID-19 (with, in order of severity, hospitalization, admission to intensive care and even death).
“Two groups have a higher risk of developing severe forms: people over 60 and those with other health problems,” the WHO (World Health Organization) points out on its website.
“Out of ten deaths linked to COVID-19 recorded in the United States, eight concerned adults over the age of 65”, according to the American Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Published at the end of March in the medical journal The Lancet, a study carried out in February on several hundred Chinese showed that the proportion of patients requiring hospitalization rises sharply with age: 0.04% among 10/19 year olds, 4.3% among 40/49 year olds, 16 , 6% among 70/79 year olds and 18.4% among those over 80.
But just because the risk is statistically increased does not mean that an elderly person will necessarily have a severe form, especially there are other factors involved (including having a chronic disease).
“Age cannot be reduced to the mere number of years”, also estimated, in France, the National Academy of Medicine during one of its opinions on the pandemic, arguing that the state of general shape also matters.
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Obesity, a big factor
According to the latest data on his health, released in June, Donald Trump can be considered obese. At 110 kilos for 1.90 meters, he has a body mass index (BMI) of 30.5.
An individual is obese when their BMI, that is, their weight divided by their height squared, exceeds 30 (“moderate” obesity up to 35, “high” between 35 and 40 and “morbid” above of 40).
“Obesity … increases the risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19,” the CDC noted.
“The link has been proven between obesity and the risk of complications, because of related pathologies (diabetes or hypertension, often associated with obesity, Editor’s note), but also independently of these”, according to the French Ministry of Health.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had to spend three nights in intensive care in April after being infected with the coronavirus, recently said he went on a diet afterwards.
“When you have reached a weight of around 111 kg, as I have reached, for about 1.78 meters (or a BMI of 35, Editor’s note), it is probably a good idea to lose weight,” he said. he said Tuesday.
But then again, being obese does not automatically mean that you will have a severe form, even if the risks are increased.
“The risk of severe form or even death depends on many factors, some of which are not measurable, and it is not as simple as making the deduction from just one or two”, explains Prof. Naveed Sattar, from the University of Glasgow, cited by the British organization Science Media Center.
Regardless of age, the presence of other diseases or health problems is an aggravating factor: hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, kidney failure or even a weakened immune system, especially during cancer or transplants.
The health of the US president has been the subject of multiple speculation in recent months, such as in June, when he was filmed walking down a ramp with cautious little steps.
At a meeting two weeks later, he said he was in good health: “If there is a problem, I will tell you.”
In addition, it is suspected that some serious cases are linked to genetics. This could partly explain why ethnic minorities (blacks, Asians …) are more affected, as British and American studies have shown.
Finally, long before the news of his infection, Trump sparked an uproar in May by saying he was taking hydroxychloroquine preventively, in defiance of recommendations from US health officials. This treatment, which he later stopped, showed no benefit against COVID-19, according to numerous studies.
“He’s our president and I’d rather he didn’t take something that hasn’t been approved by scientists, especially in his age group and, say, in his weight class, called morbid obesity,” had quipped on CNN one of his political opponents, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.