From Veiled Insults to ‘Inherent Vitality’: How World Leaders Are Reacting to Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

Vladimir Putin had the most flattering of words for Trump, while the French government hinted at the president’s downplaying of the virus.
Vladimir Putin Donald Trump COVID-19
Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen in a 2018 file photo, wished Trump a speedy recovery from COVID-19. Photo via Getty images.

The news that U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania have COVID-19 has so far been met with mainly brief well wishes—and some veiled criticism—from other world leaders. 

In one of the more fawning responses, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Trump via telegram, “I am sure that your inherent vitality, vigor and optimism will help you overcome the dangerous virus,” according to the Kremlin, as reported in the New York Times


Putin, who has reportedly been riding out the pandemic in a bubble flanked by disinfectant tunnels, wished Trump and his wife “a speedy recovery and expressing sincere support at this difficult moment.” 

On the other end of the spectrum, in a statement that hinted at Trump’s downplaying of the virus, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, “this demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown scepticism. I wish him a swift recovery.” 

Trump has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus.” 

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, tweeted, “saddened to learn #President and the #FirstLady of the #US tested positive. Hope they both have a speedy recovery and will be fine.” 

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s state-run newspaper the Global Times, slammed Trump for mishandling the pandemic. 

“President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19. The news shows the severity of the US’ pandemic situation. It will impose a negative impact on the image of Trump and the US, and may also negatively affect his reelection,” he tweeted

According to a tweet from Jason Brodsky, policy director at non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran, a telegram channel for Nour News—a site linked to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council—is posting memes mocking Trump, including one showing his head as a virus. 


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in April, tweeted, “My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady. Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus.” 

Prior to being diagnosed, Johnson had bragged about how he continued to shake hands with people, including at hospitals. He initially said his symptoms were mild, before he had to be rushed into intensive care. Earlier this week, Johnson told the newspaper he was “fitter than a butcher’s dog” in response to concerns over the lingering effects of the virus. 

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “Like millions of Israelis, Sara and I are thinking of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump and wish our friends a full and speedy recovery.” 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that him and his wife Sophie Grégoire “are sending our best wishes to @POTUS Trump and @FLOTUS. We hope you both get well soon and have a full recovery from this virus.” Meanwhile, Canadian Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole, who, along with his wife, tested positive for COVID-19 in September, tweeted, “Rebecca and I know first hand the challenges of COVID-19 and wish @POTUS and @FLOTUS a speedy recovery.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “I send Donald and Melania Trump all my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery from their #COVID19 infection,” according to a tweet from a German government spokesman. 

This story will be updated throughout the day. 

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