United States.- President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again on Saturday, just over three days after he was cleared to come out of 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 not experienced a resurgence of symptoms and continues to feel fairly well.”
In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Biden will go back into isolation for at least five days. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and no serious illnesses have been reported during that period.
News of Biden’s positive test came 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 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 and tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was later cleared out of isolation while wearing a mask indoors. His positive tests place him among the minority of those prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.
As Biden tested negative, he returned to holding in-person events and meetings indoors with White House staff and wearing a mask, in accordance with CDC guidelines. But the president took off his mask on the inside when he delivered remarks Thursday and during a meeting with chief executives at the White House complex.
When asked why Biden appeared to be in violation of CDC protocols, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “They were socially distanced. They were far enough apart. So we made it safe for them to be together, to be on that stage.”
Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the CDC warned doctors in May that it has been reported to occur within two to eight days of an initial negative test for the virus.
“The limited information currently available from case reports suggests that people treated with Paxlovid who experience a rebound of COVID-19 have had mild illness; there are no reports of serious illness,” the agency said at the time.
When Biden was initially released from isolation on Wednesday, O’Connor said the president would “increase his testing cadence” to catch any potential rebound in the virus.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters Monday that “clinical data suggests that 5 to 8 percent of people recovered” after Paxlovid treatment.
Paxlovid has been shown to significantly reduce serious illness and death among people most vulnerable to COVID-19. US health officials have encouraged those who test positive to consult their doctors or pharmacists to see if they should be prescribed the treatment, despite the risk of rebound.
Biden is fully vaccinated, having received two doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster shot in September and an additional dose on March 30.
While patients who have recovered from previous COVID-19 variants have tended to have high levels of immunity to future reinfections for 90 days, Jha said the BA.5 subvariant that infected Biden has proven to be more “immune-evasive.” “.
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“We’ve seen a lot of people get re-infected within 90 days,” he said, adding that officials don’t yet have data on how long those who have recovered from the BA.5 strain have protection against re-infection.