Joe Biden tests positive for Covid just days after recovering from first bout

Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit coronavirus isolation. Credit: AP

US President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid again on Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit isolation after recovering from an initial bout of the virus, the White House said.

The president, 79, previously tested positive last week, and was able to leave "strict isolation" after receiving negative tests on Tuesday and Wednesday.

White House physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor said in a letter that Biden “has experienced no reemergence of symptoms, and continues to feel quite well.”

The virus returning is a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.

In a tweet, Biden said he "will be back on the road" after he is out of isolation.

In a video posted to Twitter, the president said he's "feeling fine" and would continue working from home.

Pointing to his dog, he added: "Commander and I got a little work to do".

In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Biden will reenter isolation for at least five days. The agency says most rebound cases remain mild and that severe disease during that period has not been reported.

Biden's positive tests puts him among the minority of those prescribed the anti-viral drug Paxlovid to experience a rebound case of the virus.

Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the CDC in May warned doctors that it has been reported to occur within two days to eight days after initially testing negative for the virus. “Limited information currently available from case reports suggests that persons treated with Paxlovid who experience Covid-19 rebound have had mild illness; there are no reports of severe disease,” the agency said at the time. When Biden was initially released from isolation on Wednesday, O’Connor said the president would “increase his testing cadence” to catch any potential rebound of the virus.

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White House Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters on Monday that “the clinical data suggests that between five and eight percent of people have rebound” after Paxlovid treatment. Paxlovid has been proven to significantly reduce severe disease and death among those most vulnerable to Covid.

US health officials have encouraged those who test positive to consult their doctors or pharmacists to see if they should be prescribed the treatment, despite the rebound risk. Biden is fully vaccinated, after getting two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster shot in September and an additional dose March 30. While patients who have recovered from earlier variants of Covid-19 have tended to have high levels of immunity to future reinfection for 90 days, Jha said that the BA.5 subvariant that infected Biden has proven to be more “immune-evasive". “We have seen lots of people get reinfected within 90 days,” he said, adding that officials don’t yet have data on how long those who have recovered from the BA.5 strain have protection from reinfection.