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July 22, 2022

President Biden provides update following Covid-19 diagnosis

Daily Briefing

    President Joe Biden on Thursday posted a video message saying he's "doing well" following his Covid-19 diagnosis. According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, he is currently experiencing "very mild symptoms."

    Biden provides an update on his condition

    Biden posted the video message on Twitter, marking his first on-camera interaction since his diagnosis.

    "I'm doing well, I'm getting a lot of work done, I'm going to continue to get it done, and in the meantime, thanks for your concern," Biden said in the video. "Keep the faith. It's going to be OK."

    Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also tweeted that he had spoken with Biden on Thursday and said he "sounded great and is in good spirits."

    According to Kevin O'Connor, the president's physician, Biden's symptoms include a runny nose, fatigue, and an occasional dry cough.

    Biden is currently taking Paxlovid, an antiviral developed by Pfizer. Paxlovid has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and death from Covid-19 by 90% among patients most at risk of developing a severe case of the disease when given within five days of symptom onset. O'Connor said he "anticipate[s] that [Biden] will respond favorably" to Paxlovid, "as most maximally protected patients do."

    According to White House coronavirus coordinator Ashish Jha, Biden has been instructed to stop taking a cholesterol medicine and a blood thinner he routinely takes to prevent any risk of serious side effects from Paxlovid.

    Jha also addressed the chance that Biden may have a rebound of his Covid-19 symptoms after finishing his course of Paxlovid, as some patients do.

    "When people have rebound, they don't end up in the hospital. They don't end up particularly sick," Jha said. "Paxlovid is working really well at preventing serious illness, rebound or no rebound, and that's why he was offered it. And that's why the president took it."

    How the White House and close contacts are reacting

    According to Jean-Pierre, the White House Medical Unit is informing people who've had close contact with Biden of his positive status. One of those close contacts, first lady Jill Biden, who is currently in Detroit, tested negative for the coronavirus on Thursday morning.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another close contact of Biden's, also tested negative Thursday morning. "I'm wearing a mask, I'm getting tested, and I have no symptoms," Warren said. "I will wear a mask because it's the right thing to do."

    When asked whether the White House should tighten its Covid-19 precautions, Jean-Pierre said, "We knew this was going to happen. There's been no change to our protocol."

    However, Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania and former advisor to Biden's transition team on the pandemic, said he believes the White House "need[s] to up their game in terms of masking," adding that Biden's diagnosis may be the highest-profile example of how contagious the virus is.

    "Obviously someone who tested negative came in contact with him and converted, so it's highly infectious," Emanuel said. (Chalfant, The Hill, 7/21; Weiland, New York Times, 7/21; Shear, New York Times, 7/21; Cancryn/Lemire, Politico, 7/21; Cochrane, New York Times, 7/21)

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