On Saturday, the White House doctor said Joe Biden had tested positive for COVID-19 a second time and had returned to isolation, attributing the result to a positive “rebound” from the treatment the US president received.
Presidential physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a note that Biden “tested positive late Saturday morning, through antigen testing,” after four consecutive days of negative tests, and “will re-enact strict isolation measures.”
Dr O’Connor said: ‘This actually represents ‘rebound’ positivity, referring to a situation in which patients treated with baxlovid – as Mr Biden had – cleared the virus but tested positive after completing their course.
“The president has not seen a recurrence of symptoms and is still feeling well. In this case, there is no reason to resume treatment at this time,” he added.
In a tweet, Biden appeared to be seeking to downplay the situation.
“Guys, today I tested positive for COVID again. This happens with a small minority of people,” he wrote. “I have no symptoms but will isolate for the safety of everyone around me. I’m still at work, and will be back on the road soon.”
The White House said Biden has canceled planned trips to Delaware and Michigan.
“Specifically a good conscience”
The second positive test came just three days after O’Connor announced that Biden had tested negative and no longer needed to be isolated, which he has been doing since getting his first positive result on July 21.
Biden has mostly been conspicuously careful about monitoring COVID-19 protocols — unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who sometimes mocked those who wear masks.
“The President remains extremely diligent in protecting any Executive Headquarters, the White House, the Secret Service, and other personnel whose duties require any proximity (albeit social distance) from him,” O’Connor said.
As the oldest US president in history – he will turn 80 in November – Biden’s health receives constant attention.
On Wednesday, he ended his previous five-day Covid isolation, sounding energized as he told his jubilant aides that his speedy recovery should inspire Americans to take advantage of free vaccines and treatments.
He compared his seemingly rapid recovery to Trump’s more serious bout of illness in October 2020, before vaccines were available.
“When my predecessor contracted Covid, he had to take a helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center,” Biden said. “He was seriously ill. Fortunately, he recovered. When I contracted Covid, I worked from the top floor of the White House.”
He added that full vaccination, preventive examinations, and the use of Baxolvid treatment prevent deaths, and it is available free of charge.
“You don’t need to be a boss to get these tools,” he said.
Dr. O’Connor had warned after Biden was cleared of his first round of COVID-19 that the president would wear a mask for 10 days when around others and would continue to get tested regularly in case he “rebounds.”
Dr. O’Connor says Biden is generally in good health. He has been fully vaccinated and received two booster shots against the coronavirus.