Biden tests positive for COVID-19, returns to isolation

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again on Saturday, just over three days after he was permission to leave the isolation of the coronavirussaid the White House, in a rare case of “rebound” after treatment with an antiviral agent.

White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that Biden “has not experienced any renewed symptoms and is still feeling reasonably well.” O’Connor said, “There is no reason to restart treatment at this time.”

In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Biden will be re-isolated for at least five days. He’ll be in isolation at the White House until he tests negative. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and no serious illness has been reported during that time.

The news about Biden’s positive test — he had been negative Friday morning — came just two hours after the White House announced a presidential visit to Michigan next Tuesday to highlight the approval of a bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing. Biden was also scheduled to visit his home in Wilmington, Delaware, Sunday morning, where First Lady Jill Biden stayed while the president was positive. Both trips have been canceled as Biden has returned to isolation.

Biden, 79, was treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovíd, and tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was then allowed to leave the isolation while wearing a mask indoors. His positive tests put him in the minority of those prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.

dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, told reporters on July 25 that the data “suggests that between 5 and 8 percent of people have a rebound” after treatment with Paxlovid.

Recognizing the potential for so-called ‘rebound’ COVID positivity seen in a small percentage of patients treated with Paxlovid, the president increased his tested cadence, to protect those around him and prevent early detection of any recurrence of viral replication,” O’ Connor wrote in his letter.

O’Connor cited negative tests for Biden from Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning, ahead of Saturday morning’s positive result from antigen testing. “This basically represents ‘rebound’ positivity,” he wrote.

Both the Food and Drug Administration and Pfizer point out that 1% to 2% of people in Pfizer’s original study of Paxlovid saw their virus levels rise again after 10 days. The percentage was about the same among people taking the drug or the dummy pills, “so it’s unclear at this point whether this is related to drug treatment,” the FDA said.

While Biden tested negative, he returned to holding in-person indoor events and meetings with White House staff and wore a mask, consistent with CDC guidelines. But the president took off his mask indoors when making comments on Thursday and when meeting with CEOs at the White House complex.

Asked why Biden appeared to be violating 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 podium. .”

Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the CDC in May warned doctors that it has been reported within two to eight days of the initial negative test for the virus.

“Limited information currently available from case reports suggests that individuals treated with Paxlovid who experienced COVID-19 rebound 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 “raise his test cadence” to accommodate a potential rebound from the virus.

Paxlovid has been proven to significantly reduce serious illness and death among those most vulnerable to COVID-19. US health officials have encouraged those who test positive to see their doctor or pharmacist to see if they should receive the treatment, despite the rebound risk.

Biden is fully vaccinated, having received two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, an initial booster shot in September and an additional dose on March 30.

While patients who have recovered from previous variants of COVID-19 generally have high levels of immunity against future reinfection for 90 days, Jha said the BA.5 subvariant that infected Biden appeared to be more “immune-avoidant.”

“We have seen many people reinfected within 90 days,” he said, adding that officials have no data yet on how long those recovering from the BA.5 strain are protected from reinfection.

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