Joe Biden, the oldest person ever to serve as president of the United States, has tested positive for COVID-19, is experiencing mild symptoms and will continue working but in isolation, the White House said on Thursday.
Biden, 79, has a runny nose, fatigue and an occasional dry cough, symptoms which he began to experience late on Wednesday, White House physician Kevin O’Connor said in a note released on Thursday. Biden has begun taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, O’Connor said.
“He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The White House will provide a daily update on Biden’s health, and he will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and isolate at the White House while continuing to work, she said.
Biden became ill at a time when his administration is grappling with soaring inflation, global supply challenges and Russia’s land assault on Ukraine.
His illness forced cancellation of a trip to Pennsylvania where Biden intended to lay out plans to ask Congress for $37 billion for crime prevention programs.
“Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern. Just called Senator Casey, Congressman Cartwright, and Mayor Cognetti (and my Scranton cousins!) to send my regrets for missing our event today. Keeping busy!” Biden wrote on Twitter.
A picture accompanying the tweet showed the president smiling, wearing a blazer and sitting at a desk with papers.
The White House provided an unusually detailed account of the president’s morning activities, including a series of phone calls to political allies.
The Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) antiviral drug Paxlovid that Biden is taking has been shown to reduce the risk of severe disease by nearly 90% in high risk patients if given within the first five days of infection.
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, with symptoms returning days later.
Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health in New York, who is not treating the president, said Paxlovid is likely the only treatment Biden will get, unless his symptoms worsen.
“Elderly people are more at risk for developing complications from COVID,” Farber said. “It dramatically is lower if you’ve been vaccinated and doubly boosted, which he has been, so I anticipate he will do very well.”