WASHINGTON — President Biden finally tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, a week after his rebound case came to light, but the White House physician said the president would remain in isolation “in an abundance of caution” until a second negative. test.
Biden has stayed away from the Oval Office since he tested positive again on July 30, although he has tried to maintain a public presence through video appearances from the White House residence. The recurrence of the virus has kept him off the road for political events and also delayed summer vacation plans.
According to Dr. White House physician Kevin C. O’Connor has seen the president experience few symptoms during his rebound case, and he has appeared in relatively good health in his video events in recent days. “The president still feels really good,” said Dr. O’Connor in a memo released to reporters on Saturday.
During the president’s first confrontation with Covid-19 and during his rebound case, Dr. O’Connor never appeared before reporters to answer questions, unlike previous White House doctors among other presidents. The White House has never given a clear explanation as to why. The daily memos of Dr. O’Connor have yielded no theories as to where and how the president was infected. White House officials have said those believed to have been in close contact with Mr Biden all tested negative.
The president was treated with Paxlovid early on in his battle with Covid, and while the drug has been credited with great success in suppressing the virus and preventing serious cases and hospitalizations, a number of patients who have taken it have had a few. tested positive again days after the last dose of the five-day regimen.
Early clinical trials found that only about 1 to 2 percent of those treated with Paxlovid, made by Pfizer, experienced symptoms again. Subsequent studies of patients have found higher rates, although still in the single digits.
But some doctors and patients have speculated that the rebound rate could be even higher because of anecdotal experience and because of the characteristics of the highly contagious Omicron subvariants in circulation this summer. Among those who have had a rebound case after taking Paxlovid was Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser and a leading figure in response to the pandemic.
Biden has been described by aides as eager to get out of isolation and get back on the road as the midterm congressional campaign begins to heat up. As a result of his infection, he has had to cancel a number of scheduled trips and limited his contact with assistants, advisors and others at a time when he has achieved some important victories that he would like to promote.
“I wish I was with you in person, frankly,” he told Vice President Kamala Harris and several cabinet members via video feed at an event on Wednesday detailing his plans to take action to protect abortion rights. “But I’ll get there.”