President Biden’s Covid diagnosis on Thursday — and what his doctor described as mild symptoms — underscored the significant progress that has been made in fighting the coronavirus in the 21 months since his predecessor was infected.
The White House first revealed that former President Trump was sick with the virus in the early hours of Oct. 2, 2020, when vaccines were not yet available and Mr. Trump was regularly mocking precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing.
At the time, Mr. Trump’s aides said he was doing well and downplayed the severity of his condition, saying he was “feeling good.” But the truth was very different. Reporting later revealed that Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen levels had fallen steeply before he was taken by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the White House, and that aides were worried that he would need to be put on a ventilator and would not be able to walk to the helicopter.
Mr. Trump was given monoclonal antibodies and an intravenous drug called Remdisivir, as well as steroids to combat inflammation in his lungs. He stayed in the hospital for three nights. When he returned to the White House on Oct. 5, he declared, “I feel better than I did 20 years ago.”
In fact, he had been seriously ill, beginning on Oct. 2, when doctors at the White House struggled to keep his fever down and his blood oxygen from falling. Several books, including one by two Washington Post reporters, have documented the danger to Mr. Trump’s health at that time.
By contrast, Mr. Biden’s infection so far appears to be much milder, reflecting the fact that he has received four doses of coronavirus vaccine — the initial two-dose series and two boosters. According to his doctors, Mr. Biden appears to have no serious symptoms, and is continuing to work in isolation in the White House.
“Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern,” Mr. Biden wrote on Twitter a few hours after his diagnosis was revealed.
Health officials credit the wide availability of vaccines and new anti-viral drugs, each of which lessens the severity of the disease if a person becomes infected. Mr. Biden started taking the oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid on Thursday.
The current White House has been more transparent about when and how the president was infected than Mr. Trump’s was.
The former president’s aides first told the public about Mr. Trump’s positive test on the day he went to the hospital. But Mark Meadows, who was Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, revealed in a book that the former president actually tested positive several days earlier, and continued traveling with staff members and reporters even though he knew he was potentially infectious.