Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time and is returning to solitary confinement, his White House doctor said on Saturday, attributing the result to “rebounded” positivity from the treatment received by the US president.
Mr. Biden “tested positive late Saturday morning, by antigen test,” after four consecutive days of negative tests, and “will reinitiate strict isolation procedures,” presidential physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memorandum. .
“This actually represents ‘rebound’ positivity,” Dr O’Connor said, referring to a situation in which patients treated with the drug Paxlovid – as Mr Biden was – clear the virus but are tested. positive after completing their course.
“The President has not experienced any recurrence of symptoms and continues to feel reasonably well. That being the case, there is no reason to resume treatment at this time,” he added.
In a tweet, Mr. Biden appeared to seek to downplay the situation.
“Friends, today I tested positive for COVID again. This happens with a small minority of people,” he wrote. “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.”
Mr. Biden has canceled planned trips to Delaware and Michigan, the White House said.
The second positive test came just three days after O’Connor said Mr Biden had tested negative and no longer needed to self-isolate, which he had been doing since receiving a first positive result July 21.
Mr Biden has for the most part been very cautious about adhering to COVID-19 protocols – unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who sometimes mocked those who wore masks.
“The President continues to be extraordinarily conscientious in protecting any member of the Executive Residence, White House, Secret Service, and other personnel whose duties require close (albeit socially distant) proximity to him,” O’Connor said.
As the oldest US president in history – he turns 80 in November – Mr Biden’s health is under constant scrutiny.
He had ended his Covid isolation of five days earlier on Wednesday, sounding energetic as he told his cheering aides that his speedy recovery should inspire Americans to take advantage of free vaccines and treatment.
I compared his seemingly rapid recovery to Trump’s more serious battle with the disease in October 2020, before vaccines became available.
“When my predecessor contracted COVID, he had to be airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center,” Biden said. “He was gravely ill. Luckily he recovered. When I caught Covid, I worked upstairs in the White House.”
I added that being fully immunized, having preventive tests, and then using Paxlovid therapeutic treatment prevents deaths and is available at no cost.
“You don’t have to be president to get these tools,” he said.
Dr O’Connor had warned after clearing Mr Biden of his first round of COVID-19 that the president would wear a mask for 10 days in the presence of others and continue to test himself regularly in the event of a “rebound”.
Dr O’Connor says Mr Biden is generally in good health. He was fully vaccinated and received two boosters against the coronavirus.