US President Biden tests positive for COVID

All have since tested negative and resumed working.

US stocks briefly headed lower following reports of the president’s diagnosis, with the S&P 500 dropping about 0.5% over the following 10 minutes. The index quickly retraced that loss and by mid-morning was back to near the unchanged mark on the day.

President Joe Biden speaks about climate change in Somerset, Massachusetts, on Wednesday.Credit:

Biden is tested regularly for the disease and anyone who meets with him or travels with him is tested beforehand, the White House has said. Biden had last tested negative on Tuesday.

If given within the first five days of infection, the Pfizer antiviral drug Paxlovid that Biden is taking has been shown to reduce the risk of severe disease by nearly 90% in high-risk patients.

But Paxlovid has in some cases been associated with rebound infections, in which patients improve quickly and test negative after a five-day course of the drug, but then days later symptoms return.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, experienced a rebound infection four days after ending his first course of Paxlovid, and was given a second round of the drug, Fauci said in an interview this week.

Biden’s White House predecessor, Donald Trump, contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised for three nights in October 2020.

Biden is fully vaccinated and got his second booster shot in March. The risk of an unvaccinated person aged 65 and older being hospitalised after contracting COVID-19 is 10 times that of someone who has been vaccinated.

Unlike Trump, Biden consistently wore a mask when in public when case counts were high and before being vaccinated.

He also set up strict COVID-19 safety protocols at the White House, urged Americans to take the virus seriously and campaigned for everyone to get fully vaccinated.

Biden has, however, stopped wearing a mask at public events in recent months, and the White House dropped its mask requirement ahead of his March 1 State of the Union Address.

Biden joins a roster of other world leaders who have contracted COVID since the pandemic started in early 2020.

Those include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Albert II, the prince of Monaco. All have recovered.

Administration officials have acknowledged that Biden’s regular contact with advisers and supporters could expose him to COVID-19.

However, the administration is keen to project a sense of normalcy as many Americans are returning to work and socializing with friends and family, officials have said. On Wednesday he traveled to Rhode Island and Massachusetts for a speech on climate change.

“We all knew this would happen, it was just a matter of time. Given the hectic schedule of the POTUS and the super high transmissibility of BA.5,” Drs Peter Hotez, a virologist and dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, tweeted.

Biden’s wife Jill tested negative on Thursday morning in Detroit and plans to maintain her full schedule of travel in Michigan and Georgia, according to her spokesman Michael LaRosa.

Reuters

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