Trump (US), Johnson (UK) and Bolsonaro (Brazil) Photo: NYNews

3 World leaders who downplayed COVID-19 and ended up catching it

*Trump joins Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and UK’s Boris Johnson

*Instead of having to give difficult policy answers to address a difficult issue, they decided that denial ─a very simple answer ─ was the best way, says Francois Heisbourg, Ex-French Foreign and Defence ministries top official 

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Ever since the outbreak of the novel but disruptive Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) November 2019, the list of world leaders and senior officials who have contracted the virus is by now long.

But United States President Donald Trump, in catching a disease he initially downplayed, has joined one that’s both shorter and more poignant, report said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, of the 10 nations hardest hit by the virus in terms of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, at least three – Brazil at 69, and the United Kingdom (UK) and US at just above 63 — are led by politicians who first belittled the Coronavirus but were then infected by it.

Agency report indicates that’s about more than schadenfreude, given the role governments have played in setting the policies and tone for the fight against the virus.

ConsumerConnect also reports the pandemic has caused over 1 million confirmed fatalities worldwide, hammered jobs and economies, and raised far-reaching questions about the future strength of nations and political systems.

Francois Heisbourg, a former official in French Foreign and Defence ministries, who now advises the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, UK, said: “It deserves repeating — leadership does make an enormous difference, even in a federal state where much of the power sits at the regional level, like in Germany.

“If the leadership is wrong-headed, as it was in Brazil or the United States, you get the consequences.”

Recall the White House said early Friday, October 2, that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted the Coronavirus, possibly from close aide Hope Hicks.

According to report, having repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus, predicting it would disappear by April 2020, and for a long time resisting wearing or promoting the use of masks, President Trump was reportedly polled poorly on his handling of the pandemic.

It’s become a central issue in his fight for re-election on November 3, report stated.

Likewise, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, a Trump-style populist, also fell sick with the virus July 2020, having previously made a show of touring infected slums without a mask.

It was learnt that at a point, he dismissed the threat of contracting the virus outrightly.

He had boasted that as an athlete, the pandemic would not affect him more than a mild flu.

He did recover from the infection.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially as well downplayed the ravaging virus.

Boris was reported to have made a public show of shaking hands with people and argued that the UK, as a “land of liberty,” shouldn’t lock down in response to COVID-19.

However, the British Prime Minister was diagnosed March 26, and later became seriously ill, ending up in intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital in the UK.

Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, who also contracted the virus, had told the citizens, that the disease was a “psychosis”.

Lukashenko rather urged his country men and women to drink vodka and take saunas to avoid it.

Nevertheless, the President became ill with COVID-19 shortly before the country’s elections August 9, 2020.

Report stated that Belarusians may have been spared a worse virus impact in that after 26 years of Lukashenko’s rule, they didn’t trust the state to protect them, and crowd-funded their own countermeasures.

Meanwhile, perhaps in realising the reality and seriousness of the virus, Johnson in a tweet @BorisJohnson October 2, 2020, stated: “My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady.

“Hope they both have a speedy recovery from Coronavirus.”

Heisbourg, who once served on the French Government’s pandemic preparation committee, also said: “They (leaders) wanted to portray themselves as invulnerable.

“Instead of having to give difficult policy answers to address a difficult issue, they decided that denial – a very simple answer – was the best way.

“As populists, it’s in their DNA.”

Kindly Share This Story