WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is feeling “much, much better” after testing positive for the coronavirus, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator said Sunday, confirming that the 79-year-old U.S. leader was infected with a highly contagious variant spreading throughout the country.
“It is the BA.5 variant … but thank goodness our vaccines and therapeutics work well against it, which is why I think the president’s doing well,” Dr. Ashish Jha told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I checked in with his team late last night. He felt well. Yesterday was a great day for him. He’s got … an upper respiratory infection and he’s doing just fine. We haven’t gotten any updates this morning, but throughout the night he was feeling much, much better.’’
This variant of the Omicron virus is an offshoot that was discovered late last year. The vast majority of cases of coronavirus in this country are believed to be caused by it. Biden was positive on Thursday morning for the virus. Biden has been living in isolation at the White House since that time.
His symptoms have been characterized as mild by the fact that he’s had four vaccinations. He also started Paxlovid antiviral drugs after becoming infected.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, wrote in his latest update Saturday on Biden’s condition that Biden’s earlier symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have become “less troublesome,” but that the president now had body aches and a sore throat.
He said Biden “most likely” had the BA.5 variant and that results of the preliminary sequencing indicating that strain did not affect Biden’s treatment plan “in any way.”
Jha pledged that the White House would keep giving updates on the president’s condition and whether he might have long-term symptoms.
“We think it’s really important for the American people to know how well their president is doing,” he said.
“Obviously if he has persistent symptoms, obviously if any of them interfere with his ability to carry out his duties, we will disclose that early and often with the American people. But I suspect that this is going to be a course of COVID that we’ve seen in many Americans who have ben fully vaccinated, double boosted, getting treated with those tools in hand,” Jha said. “The president’s been doing well and we’re going to expect that he’s going to continue to do so.’’
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