Biden tests negative for Covid-19, with symptoms 'almost completely resolved'

US President Joe Biden attends a virtual meeting with South Korea's SK Group on July 26, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - US President Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19 on Tuesday (July 26) evening and Wednesday (July 27) morning after getting infected with the coronavirus last week, his physician said.

Mr Biden remained fever free, and his symptoms were almost completely resolved, Dr Kevin O'Connor said in a memo released by the White House on Wednesday.

Mr Biden will discontinue his strict isolation measures, according to the memo.

The president had mild symptoms that steadily improved since his positive test result on Thursday (July 21).

Mr Biden was set to give a speech in the Rose Garden on Wednesday morning, his first in-person public appearance since testing positive.

He tweeted a picture of a negative Covid-19 test on Wednesday and said he would return to the Oval Office. 

Mr Biden’s recovery is a milestone for the pandemic response in the United States, where the virus’s death toll is more than a million.

The 79-year-old president has received four Covid-19 shots and was treated with Pfizer’s Paxlovid after he was infected, a drug shown to substantially reduce the chance of serious illness.

Mr Biden’s symptoms included a sore throat, runny nose, fatigue and elevated temperature.

Mr Biden would wear a mask around others for 10 days and would “be very specifically conscientious” to protect staff and security who would be around him, the White House memo said.

The White House has not made Dr O’Connor available to reporters during Mr Biden’s illness to discuss his condition or take questions.

Mr Biden’s Paxlovid treatment course ended Monday (July 25) night. Some people who take Paxlovid experience a rebound shortly after discontinuing treatment and start testing positive again, though they typically experience very mild symptoms.White House officials have downplayed the risk that Mr Biden will rebound, saying it’s a single-digit-percentage chance.

Dr O’Connor wrote that Mr Biden would “increase his testing cadence” in case of a rebound.

How much protection he now has, and for how long, against re-infection is not entirely clear.

Recovery from the BA.5 variant, which Mr Biden’s doctor said he probably had, likely protects him for at least some time, according to Dr Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator who has spoken to reporters about Mr Biden’s case.

The negative tests allow him to resume some activities, though guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention dictates that he should wear a mask around others, abstain from travel and fully avoid vulnerable people until Aug 1.

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