Biden tests positive for coronavirus again after Paxlovid ‘bounce’

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President Biden tested positive for the coronavirus again on Saturday, his doctor said, after experiencing a Paxlovid “rebound”.

The president’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said Biden tested negative Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning. He tested positive on Saturday morning using an antigen test.

Doctors have warned that people who receive the antiviral drug Paxlovid can experience ‘rebound’ infections within days of initially testing negative, although data on the frequency of the event and its long-term effects remain unclear.

O’Connor said in a letter that Biden has not experienced any recurrence of symptoms and “continues to feel quite well.”

“That being the case, there is no reason to restart treatment at this time, but we will obviously continue close observation,” O’Connor wrote. Biden will return to solitary confinement at the White House, O’Connor added.

Biden was scheduled to travel to Wilmington, Del., on Sunday and Hemlock, Michigan, on Tuesday, but both trips have been canceled, two White House officials said.

The trip to Michigan was for an event in support of a $52 billion bill to subsidize computer chip manufacturing and research and counter China’s influence, known as CHIPS and Science Act. The legislation passed both houses of Congress this week and is awaiting Biden’s signature. It was unclear whether Biden would participate in Tuesday’s event remotely.

Biden was likely infected with the variant BA.5, O’Connor said last week an omicron subvariant that has become dominant in the United States and is the most transmissible version of the virus to date. BA.5 has shown a remarkable ability to evade immune protection afforded by vaccines and prior infection with the coronavirus.

Biden emerged from his five-day isolation on Wednesday and delivered a speech from the Rose Garden about how his mild covid infection was a reflection of the administration’s pandemic response and the tools it had made widely available , including antivirals, home tests and boosters. .

He led a series of public events this week in support of the CHIPS bill and on the economy. Biden did not hold any public events on Friday.

Biden removed his mask for some of the events. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden still complied with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines because he was more than six feet from others.

CDC guidelines recommend people self-isolate for five days after testing positive for the coronavirus and wear a mask for an additional five days when around other people. Some experts have said the guidelines could cause people to return to work or leave isolation while potentially still infectious.

Besides Biden, notable figures who have experienced rebound infections include 81-year-old Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, who contracted the coronavirus earlier this summer. Rebound infection can also lead to other complications, as with the initial infection, but many people describe their symptoms as mild.

Paxlovid, which is taken in a five-day course, suppresses the amount of virus in a person’s system while the treatment is taken. Some experts speculate that rebound infections occur because the five-day course is too short and should be extended by several days, to ensure the virus has been eradicated.

Biden addressed his rebound case on Twitter on Saturday, but reassured people that he was still working and would resume traveling soon.

“Friends, today I tested positive for COVID again. This happens with a small minority of people,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “I have no symptoms but will self-isolate for the safety of everyone around me. I am still at work and will be back on the road soon.

Dan Diamond contributed to this report.

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