Biden continues to test positive after COVID treatment rebound

Biden mask
Biden mask

White House, Adam Schultz/Flickr cc

President Joe Biden today tested positive again for COVID-19 today, 2 days after his doctor announced that the president was experiencing "rebound" positivity after treatment with Paxlovid.

In a statement, President Biden's physician, Kevin O'Connor, DO, said strict isolation will continue in the wake of the first positive test for rebound on Jul 30. "The President continues to feel well as he starts his week," O'Connor said.

Over the weekend, O'Connor said Biden hadn't experienced symptoms again but had increased his testing to protect people around him. He initially tested negative after Paxlovid treatment on Jul 26.

Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, who coordinates the White House COVID-19 committee, said on Twitter yesterday that rebound is important to monitor, because people can potentially be contagious, but he added that it doesn't seem to lead to serious illness.

He noted that rebound can occur in people who are sick with COVID and didn't take Paxlovid, and it has also been reported in people treated with molnupiravir, the other SARS-CoV-2 antiviral. Jha said it's not clear how often it happens, with data from clinical trials and tracking from large health systems suggesting a wide range (between 0.5% and 10%).

Rebound isn't a Paxlovid failure, because it does well at preventing serious illness, Jha said. "It'll dramatically reduce your risk of getting hospitalized or dying." He added that the bottom line is that too many Americans are still dying of COVID and that people need to be using more treatments like Paxlovid and monoclonals, not less.

Meanwhile, the nation's COVID-19 levels continue to fluctuate at a high level, as the proportion of the more transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant continues to rise. The 7-day average for new daily cases is 126,257 with 442 daily deaths, according to the Washington Post tracker. Over the past week, cases dropped by 1%, hospitalizations stayed steady, and deaths increased by 2%.

In international COVID developments, New Zealand today fully opened its borders, following its pandemic-related closure in March of 2020, according to Reuters, which said most visitors are still required to be vaccinated and take two tests after arriving. The country has phased out its quarantine requirements.

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