WASHINGTON — President Biden finally tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, a week after his rebound case emerged, but the White House doctor said the president will remain isolated “in an abundance of caution” until to a second negative test.
Mr Biden has stayed away from the Oval Office since testing positive again on July 30, although he has tried to maintain a public presence through video appearances from the White House residence . The recurrence of the virus has kept him away from political events and has also delayed summer vacation plans.
The president experienced few symptoms during his rebound case, according to Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the White House physician, and appeared relatively healthy in his video events over the past few days. “The president continues to feel very well,” Dr. O’Connor said in a note released Saturday to reporters.
During the president’s initial fight against Covid-19 and during his rebound case, Dr. O’Connor never appeared before reporters to answer questions, unlike former White House doctors under other presidents. The White House has never given a clear explanation of why. Dr. O’Connor’s daily memos provided no theory about where or how the president was infected. White House officials said those deemed to have been in close contact with Mr. Biden have all tested negative.
The President was treated with Paxlovid early in his fight against Covid, and although the drug has been credited with great success in suppressing the virus and preventing serious cases and hospitalizations, a number of patients who took, however, tested positive again a few days after the last dose of the five-day regimen.
Early clinical studies found that only 1-2% of people treated with Paxlovid, which is made by Pfizer, experienced symptoms again. Later studies of patients found higher rates, although still in the single digits.
But some doctors and patients have speculated that the rebound rate could be even higher due to anecdotal experiences and due to the characteristics of the highly contagious Omicron subvariants in circulation this summer. Among those who have had a rebound case after taking Paxlovid is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser and a leading figure in the pandemic response.
Mr Biden has been described by aides as eager to break out of isolation and get back on the road as the midterm congressional campaign begins to heat up. As a result of his infection, he has had to cancel a number of planned trips and has limited his contact with aides, advisers and others at a time when he has won important victories which he would like to promote.
“I would like to be with you in person, quite frankly,” he told Vice President Kamala Harris and several cabinet members via video feed at an event on Wednesday outlining his plans to take action to protect the right to abortion. “But I’m getting there.”