US NEWS: Biden is improving as mild COVID symptoms persist, White House says

WASHINGTON, July 22 – U.S. President Joe Biden’s symptoms of COVID-19 have improved, his doctor said on Friday, a day after Biden tested positive for the virus, as the highly contagious subvariant sparked a new wave of cases in the United States of states.

A letter released from White House physician Kevin O’Connor said Biden had a mild temperature of 99.4 F (37.4 C) Thursday night but responded favorably to Tylenol and was breathing normally.

“His voice is deeper this morning. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation remain normal on room air,” he said.

White House COVID Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told CNN that Biden is doing well and that his mild symptoms are essentially the same. He has a cold, fatigue, and an occasional dry cough, O’Connor said.

On Thursday, Biden tested positive for COVID-19, with the White House saying he was experiencing mild symptoms and would continue to work but in isolation.

On Friday, as the White House sought to convey a sense of normalcy, it released another photo of Biden signing the bill a day earlier wearing a black mask.

O’Connor said two medications Biden is taking, Eliquis for atrial fibrillation and the cholesterol drug Crestor, are being temporarily suspended to avoid interfering with his treatment cycle of the antiviral drug Paxlovid. He said low-dose aspirin is being added to Biden’s treatment as an alternative blood thinner.

“The president is tolerating the treatment well,” he said.

Biden, who at 79 is the oldest person ever to serve as president of the United States, is scheduled to hold three virtual meetings Friday with his staff, including his economic, legislative, and national security advisers, according to his public schedule released by the White House.

“We’re going to let him try to rest a little bit there, but I know he wants to have a busy day,” Jha said separately on MSNBC. “We’ll see what we can negotiate to ensure he gets at least some rest, but he’s got a pretty busy day ahead of him.”

Biden began experiencing typical symptoms of COVID and was immediately put on Paxlovid once he was diagnosed with the virus.

Fully vaccinated and twice boosted, Biden said he was “doing well” in a video posted on his Twitter account Thursday. He also said in the 21-second clip that he “has a lot of work to do” and will continue with his duties.

Jha said it is still unclear exactly where Biden, who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, contracted the new coronavirus. He told CNN that he was not aware of any related cases among Biden’s recent close contacts, but that the White House was continuing to look for contracts.

Jha said he and O’Connor will provide an update on Biden’s condition, and the White House has scheduled a news briefing for an update on Biden’s health at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT).

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of COVID cases in the US increased by more than 25% in the past month as the new BA.5 subvariant took hold there around the world.

Biden had planned to travel to his home state of Delaware this weekend, but first lady Jill Biden, who has so far tested negative, will instead stay there while the president self-isolates at the White House.

US Vice President Kamala Harris also had a negative test.

Paxlovid, the Pfizer Inc ( PFE.N ) antiviral drug the president takes, has been shown to reduce the risk of serious illness by nearly 90% in high-risk patients when given within the first five days of infection, but also in some cases associated with rebound infections.

Even with strong antivirals and vaccines, a small percentage of older people end up in the hospital.

However, health experts have noted that Biden appears to be in relatively good health for his age, as confirmed by the president’s physical in late 2021. He has temporarily stopped taking two medications — one to treat atrial fibrillation or AFib, and a cholesterol-lowering drug a statin drug – during treatment with Paxlovid.

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