Some parallels in Covid scripts of Boris Johnson, Donald Trump

Initially denying and playing down the virus, followed by contraction and fever, and eventual self-isolation.

There are some parallels in the Covid-19 scripts of US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson; the latter had to be hospitalised and was on a ventilator for several days in April.

It was a brush with death, he admitted later. His recovery was close, “it could have gone either way.”

Like Trump, who played down the virus and was rarely seen wearing a mask in public, Johnson too had made light of the virus earlier this year.

On March 3, the day his scientific and medical advisers cautioned against shaking hands, Johnson declared on live television: “I was at a hospital the other night where I think a few there were actually coronavirus patients”.

“And I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands,” he had stated with a smile.

But by March end, Johnson had contracted the virus and had to be admitted to the St Thomas’ Hospital near Downing Street on April 5. He spent three nights in the intensive care unit before returning to Number 10 a much-sobered man.

At the time of contracting the virus, both Johnson and Trump were overweight. After recovery, Johnson implored Britons to take to exercise to shed excess fat as he cited his own struggles while announcing measures to deal with the pandemic.

The blanket coverage of Johnson’s illness and recovery generated some sympathy even though there was much criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic.

There are obvious differences in the scripts of the two leaders considered to be of similar political persuasions, but the key variable is that there is an election due across the Atlantic and whether Trump’s situation will generate similar sympathy among the public.

Some parallels in Covid scripts of Boris Johnson, Donald Trump