WASHINGTON - Joe Biden, the oldest person ever to serve as president of the United States, has tested positive for COVID-19, is expecting mild symptoms and will continue working but in isolation, the White House said on Thursday.
Biden, 79, has a runny nose, fatigue and an occasion dry cough, symptoms which he began to experience late on Wednesday, White House physician Kevin O'Connor said in a note released in Thursday. Biden has begun taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, O'Connor said.
Fully vaccinated and twice boosted, Biden said he was 'doing well' in a video posted on his Twitter account. In the 21 - second clip, he also said he was 'getting a lot of work done' and would continue with his duties.
A photograph on his Twitter account showed him smiling, wearing a blazer and sitting at a desk with papers.
White House COVID coordinator, Dr Ashish Jha, said Biden's oxygen levels were normal and the president would isolate for five days, and return to public events once he had a negative COVID test.
Biden became ill at a time when his administration is grappling with soaring inflation, global supply challenges, mass shooting and Russia's land assault on Ukraine.
His illness forced cancellation of a trip to Pennsylvania where Biden intended to lay out plans to ask Congress for $37 billion for crime prevention programs.
The White House provided an unusually detailed account of the president's morning activities, including a series of phone calls to political allies, and said people who had come into close contact with Biden were being told of his illness.
Vice President Kamala Harris was in close contact with Biden on Tuesday, a White House official said. Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, told MSNBC he was as well, but he said that so for no one linked to the president's case had tested positive.
The Pfizer Inc antiviral drug Paxlovid that told Biden is taking has been shown to reduce the risk of several disease by nearly 90% i n high risk patients if given within the first five days of infection.
But Paxlovid has in some cases been associated with rebound infection, in which patients improve quickly and test negative after a five - day course of the drug, with symptoms returning days later.
Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health in New York, who is not treating the president, said Paxlovid is likely the only treatment Biden will get, unless his symptoms worsen.
'Elderly people are more at risk for developing complications from COVID', Farber said. 'It dramatically is lower if you've been vaccinated and doubly boosted, which he has been, so I anticipate he will do very well'.
At Biden's last physical in November 2021, doctors reported that the president has atrial fibrillation, a common irregular heartbeat for which he takes Eliquis, a drug designed to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Jha said Biden will stop taking Eliquis and the statin Crestor while on his Paxlovid treatment to avoid a negative interaction between thedrug.
Yale University cardiologist Dr Harlan Krumholz, said doctors had to balance risks in medicine.
'Sometimes the choice to mitigate one thing may elevate risk for something else. I am hopeful that the president will get though COVID, be helped by Paxlovid, and soon get back on the medication that reduces his risk from atrial fibrillation', he said.
OFFICIAL WASHINGTON NOT IMMUNE
Multiple members of Biden's administration and other senior figures in Washington have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent months, including Harris and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both of whom have since tested negative and resumed working.
While many Americans have moved on from the strict precautions of the pandemic's early months, returning to offices and schools and resuming summer travel, the virus has been spreading rapidly.
U.S. cases are up more than 25% in the last month, according to CDC data, with the BA.5 subvariant taking hold.
Evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection, BA.5 has been the dominant subvariant in the United States since at least every July and has driven a surge of new infections globally.
More than 1 million people have died from COVID in the United States. Most of those deaths, some 600,000 happened after Biden took office in January 2021 at the peak of a major wave of the disease.