US President Joe Biden giving a thumbs up after being asked by reporters how he is feeling during a virtual meeting yesterday. Andrew Harnik
covid diagnosis

Biden likely has highly contagious Covid-19 strain but symptoms improving, doctors say

The US president completed his first full day of Paxlovid, the antiviral therapy treatment meant to reduce the severity of Covid.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 23rd 2022, 6:37 PM

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS LEFT US President Joe Biden with a raspy voice and cough as he met virtually with his top economic team, though he insisted: “I feel much better than I sound.”

White House officials said Biden is working more than eight hours a day despite his diagnosis.

He signed Bills into law and took part in daily intelligence briefings by phone, the White House said.

“He’s still doing the job of the president,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “That does not end.”

It was all part of a coordinated effort by the administration to depict a commander-in-chief who has not relinquished his day job, despite testing positive for Covid-19 on Thursday and being sent into isolation at the White House residence.

As he beamed into a virtual meeting from the Treaty Room, Biden took off a mask and sipped water as he began discussing the decline in petrol prices in recent weeks.

Reporters were allowed to view a few minutes of the proceedings and, when they asked how Biden was feeling, he flashed a thumb’s up – although he was audibly hoarse and coughed a handful of times.

The US president’s doctors said his mild Covid symptoms are improving and he is responding well to treatment.

White House Covid response co-ordinator Dr Ashish Jha said: “The president right now feels well enough to continue working, and he has continued to work at a brisk pace.”

He said Biden will remain in isolation in the White House living quarters for five days and then be tested again. He plans to return to in-person work once he tests negative.

Meanwhile, Biden’s doctor says the US President likely contracted a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly through America.

The variant, known as BA.5, is an offshoot of the Omicron strain that emerged late last year, and it is believed to be responsible for the vast majority of coronavirus cases in the country.

Dr Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, wrote in his latest update on Mr Biden’s condition that the president’s earlier symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have become “less troublesome”.

Mr Biden’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, “remain entirely normal”, and his oxygen saturation levels are “excellent” with “no shortness of breath at all”, the doctor wrote.

Dr O’Connor said the results of the preliminary sequencing that indicated the BA.5 variant do not affect Mr Biden’s treatment plan “in any way”.

Officials have emphasised that his symptoms are mild because he has received four vaccine doses, and he started taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid after becoming infected.

In his previous update on Mr Biden’s health, Dr O’Connor said the president had an elevated temperature of 99.4F on Thursday evening, but it returned to normal after taking Tylenol.

Press Association
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