President Biden tested positive for coronavirus again on Saturday, just over three days after he was cleared to come out of coronavirus isolation, the White House said, in a rare case of “rebound” after treatment with an antiviral drug. .
White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that Biden “has not experienced a resurgence of symptoms and continues to feel quite well.”
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Biden will go back into isolation for at least five full days. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and no serious illnesses have been reported during that period.
News of Biden’s positive test came, he had tested negative on Friday morning, just two hours after the White House announced a presidential visit to Michigan next Tuesday to highlight the passage of a bill to promote manufacturing. national hi-tech. Biden had also been scheduled to visit her home in Wilmington, Del., on Sunday morning, where first lady Jill Biden has stayed while the president tested positive. Both trips have been canceled as Biden has returned to isolation.
Biden, 79, was treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid and tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was later cleared out of isolation while wearing a mask indoors. His positive tests place him among the minority of those prescribed the drug to experience a rebound case of the virus.
Both the Food and Drug Administration and Pfizer note that between 1% and 2% of people in Pfizer’s original study of Paxlovid saw their virus levels recover after 10 days. The rate was about the same among people who took the drug or the dummy pills, “so it’s not clear at this time if this is related to drug treatment,” according to the FDA.
As Biden tested negative, he returned to holding in-person events and meetings indoors with White House staff and wearing a mask, in accordance with CDC guidelines. But the president took off his mask on the inside when he delivered remarks Thursday and during a meeting with chief executives at the White House complex.
When asked why Biden appeared to be in violation of CDC protocols, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “They were socially distanced. They were far enough apart. So we made it safe for them to be together, to be on that stage.”
Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the CDC warned doctors in May that rebound cases were reported to occur within two to eight days of an initial negative test for the virus.
“The limited information currently available from case reports suggests that people treated with Paxlovid who experience a rebound of COVID-19 have had mild illness; there are no reports of serious illness,” the agency said at the time.
When Biden was initially released from isolation on Wednesday, O’Connor said the president would “increase his testing cadence” to catch any potential rebound in the virus.
Patients must re-isolate for at least five days. Per CDC guidance, they can end their reisolation period after five full days if their fever has resolved for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms improve. The patient must wear a mask for a total of 10 days after rebound symptoms began.”
Paxlovid has been shown to significantly reduce serious illness and death among people most vulnerable to COVID-19. US health officials have encouraged those who test positive to consult their doctors or pharmacists to see if the treatment should be prescribed, despite the risk of rebound.
Biden is fully vaccinated, having received two doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster shot in September and an additional dose on March 30.
While patients who recovered from earlier variants of COVID-19 tended to have high levels of immunity to future reinfections for 90 days, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said the BA.5 subvariant that infected Biden has been shown to be more “immune-evasive”.
“We’ve seen a lot of people get re-infected within 90 days,” he said, adding that officials don’t yet have data on how long those who have recovered from the BA.5 strain have protection against re-infection.
This story originally appeared on Los Angeles Times.