President Joe Biden announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 the week of July 18, and he self-isolated with few symptoms, according to the White House physician. The president had also taken Paxlovid as a treatment. Last last week, it was announced that Biden had tested negative, and that he would return to in-person work that day.
The First Lady, Jill Biden, had gone to the Biden’s home in Delaware to prevent from getting sick with COVID. She had not returned to Washington when the president’s physician announced that he had tested positive for COVID once more.
The president continues to test positive on Sunday. He is self-isolating once again. It is unknown if he is taking another round of Paxlovid.
In fact, some say that the president’s illness is a case of “rebound COVID” that may be caused by his use of the anti-viral pill that was just approved for use at the beginning of 2022.
The White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote a letter to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in which he announced the second consecutive positive test since Friday. O’Connor writes that the president “continues to feel well.”
O’Connor mentioned the possibility of a rebound case in his letter to Jean-Pierre.
The president is on “strict isolation” protocol. Any staff and Secret Service staff are required to remain “socially distanced” from the president.
CNN published a report in which they say scientists warn that people with rebound COVID after taking Paxlovid are still highly contagious, even though they may not present any symptoms of the virus. Researchers at Columbia University found that at least two patients they followed after experiencing a rebound infection of COVID had passed the virus to others during that point of their illness.
Last week, the CDC released new precautions for those who had been treated with Paxlovid, particularly those experiencing the rebound infection. Those who test positive after finishing the treatment should self-isolate for five full days after the positive COVID result. Before considering the ending of isolation, the patient should be fever-free – without the assistance of medications that can artificially bring one’s fever down – for at least twenty-four hours. In addition, those who suffer from a rebound infection of COVID after taking Paxlovid should wear a mask for at least ten days after symptoms reappear.
The White House says that just in June and July alone, at least 182,000 prescriptions for Paxlovid have been filled each week. Initially, weekly prescription totals hovered around 27,000.
The Biden Administration says that this increase is due to a one-stop-shop method of testing and treatment; many grocery and drug stores across the country allowed individuals who come to a testing site at that business to immediately receive and fill a Paxlovid prescription. For best results, Paxlovid should be taken within the first two or three days of the presentation of symptoms.
In clinical trials, Paxlovid was shown to reduced the effects of symptoms so much that almost 90 percent of those taking the medication were able to avoid hospitalization.
Rebound COVID is nothing new. In May CNN posted an opinion piece in which this phenomenon was discussed. The opinion was written by a physician, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. He claims that between April and May, reports “emerged that some people who receive the medication develop a revound of symptoms of varying intensity and duration a few days after completion of the five-day course” of Paxlovid treatment.
Dr. Sepkowitz says that “Paxlovid rebound” was not expected “and the frequency is unknown” due to only one to two percent of those who participated in Paxlovid trials earlier this year experienced this rebound effect.
He also relates that at the time of the opinion article – May 2022 – there were “only a series of anecdotes and worried phone calls.” President Biden’s Paxlovid rebound has brought national attention to the phenomenon.
Dr. Sepkowitz says that while the rebound infection is “disappointing,” this issue does not compromise the effectiveness of Paxlovid for the treatment of COVID.