Fauci on Trump Recovery: A Lot of People His Age, Weight 'Did Not Do as Well as the President'

Anthony Fauci has warned members of the public in the same COVID-19 risk groups as President Donald Trump not to view his recovery as proof that they too will get over the virus.

The member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared on CBS Evening News Wednesday. Host Norah O'Donnell asked what his message was for those who saw the president, who is 74 years old and clinically obese, recover and are therefore not worried by the virus because he beat it. Obesity and age are known to be risk factors for severe COVID-19 and death.

Fauci told O'Donnell: "That's sort of like saying somebody was speeding in a car at 95 miles an hour and didn't get in an accident, so I can go ahead and speed and not get in an accident."

The top immunologist made the comparison as the U.S. continues to lead the world in known coronavirus cases and deaths. According to Johns Hopkins University, of the 38.5 million global cases, the U.S. makes up 7.9 million. Of the over 1 million people who have died, the U.S. accounts for 216,903. The U.S. comes third for known recoveries after India and Brazil, at 3.1 million of 26.6 million globally.

"There's a great deal of variability [between patients]," Fauci said. "We are very, very, pleased that the president did so well when he was infected with coronavirus. But there are also a lot of people who are his age, and his weight which did not do as well as the president did.

Eight in ten COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been reported in adults aged 65 years old and over, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its website states: "Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk." The greatest risk is for those aged 85 and older.

Being obese or severely obese raises a person's risk of having serious COVID-19. Obesity is classed as having a body mass index (BMI) of between 30 kg/m2 and 40 kg/m2, and severe obesity as 40 kg/m2 or above. BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kilograms and dividing it by height in meters squared. Being overweight, with a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2 but less than 30 kg/m2 "might increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19," according to the CDC.

Fauci went on: "The president was fortunate, he obviously he has a good constitution, he did quite well and I hope and believe that he will continue to do very well. But you can't take an 'n = 1' and say OK then everybody who's in that category is going to do well. That's not so."

Last week, Cassandra Pierre, infectious diseases physician and hospital epidemiologist at the Boston Medical Center, told Newsweek the unique combination of treatments the president received "skews the public's thought about what can be offered and available for the treatment of COVID-19."

Pierre said some may wrongly believe "a quick pit stop at your local hospital for a cocktail of experimental medications is sufficient to get back to work."

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Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 31, 2020. KEVIN DIETSCH/AFP via Getty Images