The second insight is that if the “Boris bounce” is anything to go by then an uptick for Trump in the polls will be short-lived. The rallying effect could slip into something of a dramatic downturn as the public begins to wonder if their leader is up to the job, or may even be hampered by the nagging fatigue of “long COVID”. This seems to have occurred with Johnson, as even those around him concede that he appears to have lost his bounce.
Johnson’s very sudden and dramatic decline from the virus might make Trump’s team think twice about the current “business as usual” approach from within the confines of the White House.
The third insight is that it might, just might, make Trump a slightly humbler character. Trump has responded to the pandemic in a fairly relaxed manner, bordering on dismissive contempt. His comments about injecting bleach as a potential cure were symptomatic of a president who seemed out of touch, and to some out of his mind.
At least in the short-term, Johnson emerged from his illness with a new found zeal for keeping fit and losing weight. The site of the prime minister doing press-ups in his office was matched by a flotilla of new government-backed healthy eating and exercise campaigns.
But overall, Johnson has not really bounced back from having COVID-19, and neither have his approval ratings or the British public’s confidence in his government’s ability to manage the pandemic. Politically, however, there is much less at stake for Johnson than Trump, with the next UK election not due until 2024.
Anthony Pereira, Professor in the King’s Brazil Institute and Department of International Development, King’s College London
The news of Donald Trump’s positive test for COVID-19 is being closely watched in Brazil. When Jair Bolsonaro tested positive in July, it entrenched views of Brazil’s controversial president. For Bolsonaro himself, as well as his diehard base of about one-third of the Brazilian electorate, it confirmed what he had always said, that he would not be severely affected by what he called a “little flu”, because of his past experience as an athlete.
For those Brazilians who abhorred the president’s attitude towards COVID-19, including his insistence that only the elderly and infirm should participate in the lockdowns, and his attacks on governors who imposed broader measures, Bolsonaro’s positive test confirmed what they already felt: that Bolsonaro was ignoring science and common sense. Many felt that it was entirely predictable, given his penchant for mingling with supporters without a mask, that he would catch the disease.