Putting a number on Trump’s risk

Tuan Nguyen
3 min readOct 4, 2020

The news that Mr Trump tested positive for Covid-19 has generated a lot of discussions concerning his mortality risk. Although his private doctor said that the president’s health status was ‘excellent’, newspapers pundits painted a rather pessimistic scenario. Well, I have done some risk calculations, and my results suggest that the president should be fine.

Photo from https://abcnews.go.com

In a New York Times article, some doctors pointed out that being 74 years old and overweight, Mr Trump faces “extra risk” [1]. Some Australian doctors were also concerned that Mr Trump’s health profile would put him in the higher risk bracket from Covid-19 mortality [2]. However, these opinions were mostly qualitative, and none of the experts could provide a quantitative risk assessment for Mr Trump.

OK, first let’s recap Mr Trump’s epidemiologic and clinical profile. He is a 74 years old man, 192 cm tall , and weighed 110.7 kg. So, his body mass index is roughly 30, which is classified as “obese”. According to a presidential health report, he also had a history of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia but this has been controlled [3]. Based on this profile, Mr Trump is indeed at high risk of Covid-19 mortality.

Of course, we are talking about population risk here. We are more specifically talking about people like Mr Trump, not Mr Trump per se.

So, what is Mr Trump’s risk of Covid-19 mortality? According to a study published in the Lancet, the overall case fatality ratio was 1.4%, but this risk could increase to 8.6% among those in their 70s [4]. Moreover, other studies consistently point out that the risk is further elevated among those with co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Now, at present, Mr Trump is not having those diseases.

One way is quantify his risk is by using a risk calculator which is now available online. One of my favorite risk calculators is QxMD Calculate [5] developed from data collected by CDC. Using this QxMD Calculate, I estimate that the average risk of Covid-19 mortality for people like Mr Trump is around 6%. Now, Mr Trump is the incumbent president, and he is no doubt going to get the best medical care the US has to offer. Therefore, it is expected that his risk is in the…

Tuan Nguyen

osteoporosis | epidemiology | genetics | biostatistics | data enthusiast