US President Joe Biden has tested positive for covid-19 again, just days after the White House said he had been cleared to leave isolation, 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 not experienced any recurrence of symptoms and continues to feel quite well.” O’Connor said “there is no reason to resume treatment at this time.”
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Biden will reinstate isolation for at least five days. He will isolate himself in the White House until he tests negative. The agency says that most rebound cases remain mild and that serious illness during this period has not been reported.
Just as when Biden first tested positive, the White House tried to show that he was still working. The president sent out a photo of himself masked and tieless on Twitter, showing him signing a proclamation that added individual aid for flood survivors in Kentucky.
The president followed up by tweeting a 12-second video of him on a White House balcony with his dog, Commander.
“I feel good, everything is good,” Biden said, a pair of aviator sunglasses in hand. “But Commander and I have some work to do.”
Biden treated with antiviral drug Paxlovid
Word of Biden’s positive test — he had tested negative Friday morning — came just two hours after the White House announced a presidential visit to Michigan next Tuesday to mark the passage of a bill to promote domestic high-tech manufacturing. Biden had also been scheduled to visit his home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday morning, where first lady Jill Biden has been staying while the president tested positive. Both trips have been canceled as Biden has returned to isolation.
Biden, 79, was treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid after he first tested positive on July 21. He tested negative for the virus last Tuesday and Wednesday. He was then cleared to leave isolation while wearing a mask indoors. His positive tests put him among the minority of those who were prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.
The White House’s Covid-19 co-ordinator, Dr Ashish Jha, recently told reporters that data “suggests that between 5 and 8 percent of people have rebounded” after Paxlovid treatment.
“Recognizing the potential for so-called ‘rebound’ COVID positivity observed in a small percentage of patients treated with Paxlovid, the President increased his tested cadence, to protect people around him and to ensure early detection of any return of viral replication,” O” Wrote Connor in his letter.
O’Connor cited negative tests for Biden from Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning, before Saturday morning’s positive result in antigen testing. “This actually represents ‘rebound’ positivity,” he wrote.
Paxlovid has been shown to significantly reduce serious illness and death among those most vulnerable to COVID-19. US health officials have urged those who test positive to consult their doctors or pharmacists to see if they should be prescribed the treatment, despite the rebound risk.