US President Joe Biden has re-tested positive for COVID-19, just days after the White House said he had been given the all-clear to leave isolation, in a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.
White House physician Dr Kevin O'Connor said in a letter that Biden “has experienced no reemergence of symptoms, and continues to feel quite well.” O'Connor said “there is no reason to reinitiate treatment at this time.”
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Biden will reenter isolation for at least five days. He will isolate at the White House until he tests negative. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and that severe disease during that period has not been reported.
Just as when Biden first tested positive, the White House sought to show he was still working. The president sent out a picture of himself masked and tieless on Twitter, which showed him signing a declaration that added individual assistance for flood survivors in Kentucky.
The president followed up by tweeting out a 12-second video of him on a White House balcony with his dog, Commander.
“I'm feeling fine, everything is good,” said Biden, a pair of aviator sunglasses in his hand. “But Commander and I got a little work to do."
Biden treated with anti-viral drug Paxlovid
Word of Biden’s positive test - he had been negative Friday morning - came just two hours after the White House announced a presidential visit to Michigan this coming 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 was positive. Both trips have been canceled as Biden has returned to isolation.
Biden, 79, was treated with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid after he first tested positive on July 21. He tested negative for the virus on this past Tuesday and Wednesday. He was then cleared to leave isolation while wearing a mask indoors. His positive tests puts him among the minority of those prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr Ashish Jha told reporters recently that data "suggests that between 5 and 8 percent of people have rebound” after Paxlovid treatment.
“Acknowledging 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 assure early detection of any return 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, before Saturday morning's positive result by antigen testing. “This in fact represents ‘rebound' positivity," he wrote.
Paxlovid has been proven to significantly reduce severe disease and death among those 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 rebound risk.