COVID: Biden tests positive, returns to isolation
US President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again on Saturday, just over three days after being released from coronavirus isolation, the White House said, in a rare case of ‘rebound’ after treatment with an antiviral drug.
White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that Biden « has experienced no recurrence of symptoms and continues to feel reasonably well. »
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Biden will again enter self-isolation for at least five full days. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and no serious illnesses during this period have been reported.
Biden’s positive test came — he had been negative Friday morning — just two hours after the White House announced a presidential visit to Michigan next Tuesday to highlight the passage of a bill to promote domestic manufacturing of high technology. Biden was also due to travel to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday morning, where first lady Jill Biden stayed while the president tested positive. Both trips were canceled as Biden returned to solitary confinement.
Biden, 79, was treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid and tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was then allowed to leave solitary confinement while wearing a mask inside. His positive tests put him among the minority of those prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.
The Food and Drug Administration and Pfizer point out that 1-2% of people in Pfizer’s original Paxlovid study saw their virus levels rebound after 10 days. The rate was about the same in people taking the drug or the dummy pills, « so it’s not clear at this point whether it’s related to the drug treatment, » according to the FDA.
As Biden tested negative, he resumed hosting in-person indoor events and meetings with White House staff and wore a mask, per CDC guidelines. But the president removed his mask indoors during his remarks on Thursday and during a meeting with CEOs at the White House complex.
When asked why Biden seemed to be breaking CDC protocols, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, « They were socially distant. They were distant enough. So we made sure they were together in safe, on this stage. »
Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the CDC in May warned doctors that it had been reported to occur within two days to eight days after an initial test negative for the virus.
« The limited information currently available from case reports suggests that people treated with Paxlovid who experience rebound COVID-19 had mild illness; there are no reports of serious illness, » the agency said. at the time.
When Biden was initially released from solitary confinement on Wednesday, O’Connor said the president would « increase his testing cadence » to catch any potential virus rebounds.
Patients should self-isolate for at least 5 days. According to CDC guidelines, they can end their re-isolation period after 5 full days if the fever has been gone for 24 hours (without the use of anti-fever medication) and symptoms improve. The patient should wear a mask for a total of 10 days after the onset of rebound symptoms. »
Paxlovid has been shown to significantly reduce serious illness and death in those most vulnerable to COVID-19. US health authorities have encouraged people who test positive to see their doctor or pharmacist to see if treatment should be prescribed, despite the risk of rebound.
Biden is fully vaccinated, having received two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster in September and an additional dose on March 30.
While patients who recovered from previous variants of COVID-19 tended to have high levels of immunity against future reinfection for 90 days, Jha said the BA. 5 subvariant that infected Biden was found to be more « immune-evasive. »
« We’ve seen a lot of people get re-infected in 90 days, » he said, adding that authorities don’t yet have data on how long those who recovered from BA. 5 strains have protection against reinfection.