Biden’s Covid symptoms ‘improved’ after first day of antiviral Paxlovid treatment

PresidentJoe Biden’s Covid symptoms “have improved” after a day of antiviral treatments with Paxlovid, Physician to the President Dr Kevin O’Connor said in a memorandum on Friday, the day after the White House announced Mr Biden had tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr O’Connor said Mr Biden’s temperature rose to 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit Thursday evening, still within the normal range, then declined after he was started on a course of acetaminophen, and has remained so since then.

The former Army physician, who has treated Mr Biden since his time as vice president under Barack Obama, said the 79-year-old president “is tolerating treatment well” and would continue to be treated with Paxlovid “as planned”.

In the meantime, the president has been conducting virtual meetings and minimally interacting with staff, who largely remain socially distant and wearing N95 masks, according to the White House. Mr Biden watched part of the January 6 hearings on Thursday night, they added.

“He is still putting eight-plus hours of work a day,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing on Friday. “He wants to remind Americans to get vaccinated because in his own words, it matters.”

White House Covid Response Coordinator Dr Ashish Jha added on Friday that he spoke with the president this morning, finding Mr Biden in a “very good mood” with “normal” vital signs.

“What I think every American needs to hear, what the president laid out, is that while we have a very contagious variant out there, thanks to this president’s leadership we have the ability to manage this,” Dr Jha said. “We are at a point where we can prevent nearly every Covid death in America. That is a remarkable fact.”

The White House official said it would still be about a week before it was known which variant of Covid Mr Biden caught, though the process is being expedited.

“This virus is going to get a little special treatment because it is the president,” Dr Jha added.

According to CDC guidelines, Mr Biden could return to his regular schedule by Wednesday if he tests negative.

Officials say they aren’t concerned so far Mr Biden will develop serious side effects because Mr Biden’s risk has been “dramatically reduced by building up his immunity and anti-virals,” accordig to Dr Jha.

According to Dr O’Connor, the White House doctor, Mr Biden’s regular medications — an anti-cholesterol drug and a blood thinner — are being withheld during the antiviral treatment to guard against adverse reactions, and said the anticoagulant was being temporarily replaced by a low dose of aspirin until “several days after” Mr Biden’s last dose of Paxlovid.

“As I stated previously, the President is fully vaccinated and twice-boosted, so I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do. There has been nothing in the course of his illness thus far which gives me cause to alter that initial expectation,” Dr O’Connor wrote. “Early use of Paxlovid provides additional protection against severe disease. He will isolate in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and we will continue to monitor him closely, during this very common outpatient treatment regimen”.

Joe Biden delivers a message after testing positive for Covid-19.

(White House)

In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden, who is screened for Covid-19 on a regular basis, tested positive on Thursday morning.

During a previous briefing at the White House, Ms Jean-Pierre said she wasn’t sure where Mr Biden contracted Covid, adding “I don’t think that matters”.

The White House has determined that 17 people had close contact with Mr Biden around the time of his diagnosis, none of whom have tested positive so far.

Speaking to reporters in Detroit, Michigan, first lady Jill Biden said she spoke to her husband shortly after his positive test became publicly known.

“He’s doing fine,” she said. “He’s feeling good.”

Since Mr Biden took office in January 2021, the possibility that he would contract Covid-19 has been of great concern to his advisers, who until recently have taken great pains to limit his contact with large crowds.

At 79, Mr Biden is the oldest person to be sworn in for a first term as president and is at high risk for severe complications from the virus. But White House officials have said Mr Biden is well-protected by the vaccine and booster doses he has recieved since shortly before he took office.

Mr Biden’s positive test comes amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases due to new variants and sub-variants of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which doctors say are far more contagious than previous iterations and more easily evade the immunity conferred on him by his vaccines and boosters.

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