President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again only a few days after being cleared to leave “strict” isolation from his last battle with the coronavirus.
Biden announced on July 27 that he had successfully tested negative twice and was recovered from his bout with the disease. However, the White House notified the public over the weekend that Biden had again tested positive for COVID.
The physician to the president, Kevin O’Connor, D.O., wrote to the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on July 30, informing her the president had “tested positive late Saturday morning, by antigen testing.” He said this represents “‘rebound’ positivity.”
A “rebound” case of COVID refers to a side effect of the drug Paxlovid, developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which O’Connor prescribed to Biden after he tested positive the first time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that patients treated with the drug can experience this “rebound,” a “recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms or a new positive viral test after having tested negative.”
After Biden’s COVID relapse, some medical professionals are questioning whether the number of people experiencing a “rebound” case is much higher than previously claimed.
Jonathan Reiner, M.D., a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, observed, “I think this was predictable. The prior data suggesting ‘rebound’ Paxlovid positivity in the low single digits is outdated and with BA.5 is likely 20-40% or even higher.” Previously, claims of rebound cases ranged from 2-8%.
The CDC has previously suggested the possibility that a return of COVID symptoms may be reflective of the virus’ natural behavior in some people, regardless of anti-COVID medications or vaccination.
Though limited information is available, the CDC has said that the COVID rebound is usually mild, noting there have been no reports of severe disease. The agency has also said those experiencing the COVID rebound have not required further treatment with Paxlovid or other drugs.
O’Connor explained in his memorandum that the president had experienced no reemergence of symptoms and continued to feel well. Because of this, he said, there was no reason to start treatment over again, but the patient would “reinitiate strict isolation procedures.”
Biden tweeted, “I’ve got no symptoms, but I am going to isolate for the safety of everyone around me. I’m still at work and will be back on the road soon.” Later he shared a video of himself standing on a White House balcony alongside his dog, saying, “Going to be working from home for the next couple of days…Commander and I got a little work to do.”
On Monday, August 1, O’Connor notified the White House, “Given his rebound positivity which we reported Saturday, we continued daily monitoring.” Monday morning’s test showed Biden’s “SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing remained positive.”
The physician further reported the president would “continue to conduct the business of the American people from the executive residence.”