Washington: US President Joe Biden tested positive last week for the coronavirus, raising health concerns for the 79-year-old president and underscoring how the virus remains a persistent threat in a country trying to put the pandemic in the past.
In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden “tested positive for Covid-19. He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms.” Biden is receiving Paxlovid, an anti-viral drug used to minimise the severity of Covid-19, Jean-Pierre said. The president will isolate at the White House but will “continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” she said. Biden’s positive test came amid a flurry of virus cases as the nation grapples with new subvariants that doctors say are highly contagious and more easily evade the protections provided by coronavirus vaccinations.
Up to this point, Biden’s ability to avoid the virus seemed to defy the odds, even with the testing procedures in place for those expected to be in close contact with him. Prior waves of the virus swept through Washington’s political class, infecting Vice President Kamala Harris, Cabinet members, White House staffers and lawmakers. Biden has increasingly stepped up his travel schedule and resumed holding large indoor events where not everyone is tested. Top White House officials in recent months have been matter-of-fact about the likelihood of the president getting Covid, a measure of how engrained the virus has become in society.
Biden is far from the first world leader to get the coronavirus, which has infected British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders.