Biden’s doctor: President’s Covid symptoms ‘have improved’

By Bernd Debusmann Jr

BBC News, Washington

Joe BidenImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Joe Biden at the White House on 12 July

US President Joe Biden’s condition has improved since first testing positive for Covid-19, the White House has announced.

The 79-year-old is experiencing mild symptoms, including a runny nose and fatigue. His doctor says he is responding well to medication.

Mr Biden has kept working while in isolation, and yesterday tweeted that he was “doing great”.

He is expected to resume normal duties once he tests negative.

An update released on Friday by the president’s physician, Dr Kevin O’Connor, noted that a slight fever on Thursday evening responded well to Tylenol.

Mr Biden still has an occasional cough, and his pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels remain “entirely normal”, Dr O’Connor added.

In a Zoom meeting with his economic and energy advisers on Friday, Mr Biden sounded hoarse but said he was “feeling much better than I sound”.

The president is still also being treated with Paxlovid, an anti-viral medicine that helps stop the Covid virus from multiplying in the body. This, in turn, allows the immune system to better combat the infection.

In a news briefing at the White House, spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said she spoke to the president and that “he wants to remind Americans to get vaccinated”.

Ms Jean-Pierre added that the president had been “very active” and felt well enough to work an eight hour day, which also included virtually receiving the president’s daily briefing produced by US intelligence agencies.

Dr Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid Response coordinator, said that Mr Biden “slept well last night”.

“He ate his breakfast and lunch, fully,” he added. “He actually showed me his plate.”

Dr O’Connor added that he believes that the president – who is fully vaccinated and boosted – “will respond favourably [to the medication], as most maximally protected patients do.”

“There has been nothing in the course of his illness so far which gives me cause to alter that initial expectation,” Dr O’Connor said.

The president’s doctor’s assessment was echoed by his chief medical advisor, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr Anthony Fauci, who told CBS that he “fully expects” Mr Biden to “do very well”.

“[Mr Biden] is generally a healthy person. He has been vaccinated and boosted twice…and is feeling well enough to perform duties from the White House,” Dr Fauci added.

White House officials have confirmed that vice-president Kamala Harris, as well as the First Lady, Dr Jill Biden, have so far tested negative for the virus. Both were being considered a close contact of the president.

Mr Biden is now the second US president to contract Covid-19 while in office. His predecessor, Donald Trump. was hospitalised for three days in October 2020 after falling ill with the virus.

To date, there have been 89.7 million Covid cases in the US and more than one million deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cases are again rising and have gone up by over 25% in the last month, according to CDC data.

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