Bill Phillips is a changed man. The Colorado fitness expert – who worked as a performance nutrition and supplementation expert for the Denver Broncos in the late 1990s and is the author of Body-for-LIFE – almost died after a two-month battle with Covid-19 because he didn’t think he needed a vaccine.
Until about two weeks ago, the 56-year-old was in a medically induced coma and was hooked up to a ventilator. He spent 47 days intubated and lost 70 pounds, the Denver Post reported.
He said his prior ability to “bench press 300 pounds or run a mile straight up a hill” didn’t reduce his symptoms, and he is still on oxygen. But physicality isn’t the only transformation Phillips underwent from his daunting near-death experience. He also has a new state of mind.
He now believes everyone should get vaccinated against Covid-19. “If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody,” Phillips told the Denver newspaper. “It’s not a political issue. It’s a public health issue.”
“I made a mistake. That mistake came that close to costing me my life,” he told local news station KUSA.
Phillips told KUSA that he caught the virus twice. The first time was in January 2020, and a test found that he had antibodies. Due to this, Phillips assumed he was immune and didn’t need to get vaccinated.
Then, in June 2021, Phillips began to feel sick. He and his wife, Maria Phillips, initially shrugged it off as a sinus infection, he told the news station. Then he developed a cough so bad that he went to the emergency room.
“If we had waited even an hour longer. Bill might have just taken a nap and not woken up,” Maria Phillips said. He was then intubated and didn’t wake up for 18 days. On Wednesday, the couple left the hospital after a two-month stay.
And although Bill Phillips told the local outlet that he has “been in a lot of pain” the past few months, so has his wife. “If Bill knew everything, the trauma, the pain, that I was going to have to go through every day for the last two months, I think he would have gotten vaccinated if he had known how much pain it was going to cause,” she said.
Bill Phillips agreed upon reflection. “Get the shot. Get the vaccine. Get on with your life. Don’t take chances,” he told KUSA. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccines for those who’ve had Covid-19, citing evidence that the shots provide better protection than a past infection.
Maria Phillips added to the outlet that those “who are vaccinated are not going to end up” in her husband’s situation.
Bill Phillips plans to get the vaccine on his birthday in September. Maria Phillips got vaccinated while he was in hospital — like her husband, she also previously had Covid and believed this left her immune.
“We didn’t understand this is possible,” she told the Denver Post. “Bill will probably never be the same, but we’re just so grateful he is alive.”