Four questions about Biden’s Covid-19 diagnosis

Why didn’t Biden cover up?

A statement from the White House followed Biden’s four-day visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia is the sixth international trip of his presidency.

The president met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi officials without masks for long periods of time, a move that may have exposed him to the virus.

“We follow the protocols of the countries we visit,” a White House official said.

This indicates how willingness to take precautions has changed since the winter’s deadly surge.

“As we start to see deaths rise and hospitalizations rise, everything about recommendations is up in the air,” said Irwin Radlener, director of Columbia University’s Pandemic Resources and Response Initiative.

Last week, Biden’s top medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, briefly called the removal of the mask a “lapse” of judgment at a college reunion that led to his Covid-19 diagnosis last month.

“When I was doing this, I said to myself, I hope I’m not wrong,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. said in an interview with POLITICO A week before the President’s case.

“White House protocols are based on and sometimes exceed CDC guidelines,” a White House official said, adding that people are still required to be tested for the virus before meeting the president. It is unclear whether foreign officials were tested during Biden’s trip to the Middle East. “The White House is a unique place to work, and as such, we have different protocols in place to ensure our staff can work safely and efficiently.

What is a “mild” case for a 79?

Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said this Memorandum Friday that Biden had a slightly elevated temperature Thursday evening, but his symptoms improved after the first full day of Paxlovide, a regimen of 30 pills taken over 5 days.

Still, Biden’s symptoms include a runny nose, fatigue and cough. O’Connor also said Biden stopped taking other medications, such as a daily blood thinner, while taking the antiviral. “The president is fully vaccinated and double-boosted, so I expect him to respond favorably, as the most protected patients do.”

Although fewer people are dying from the virus than in previous waves, deaths and severe cases are still disproportionately among older Americans, according to the CDC. Data is still coming in on the highly contagious subvariant BA.5, which has quickly become the nation’s dominant strain, prompting federal health officials to urge all adults to get another booster.

Biden’s case is similar to that of Fauci, 81, whose symptoms — except for fatigue — disappeared during the first course of Paxlovide. Fouch told POLITICO that she experienced a paxlovid rebound, testing negative for two days before the virus resurfaced, causing fever, fatigue and other symptoms. He then started a second course of Paxlovid, which health experts are already suggesting Biden may do.

Does all this mean that the CDC guidelines need to be changed?

The administration risks a political backlash if it asks states to impose new mask mandates, but public health experts say the surge caused by Omicron’s variant BA.5 calls for tougher measures — including longer quarantine periods.

The president is going beyond the CDC’s “weak” guidelines to test positive for five days of self-quarantine, then wear a mask for five days and say he will test every day and not end self-quarantine until he tests negative, said Eric Topol, MD and founder of the Scripps Translational Research Institute.

Topol said the CDC should recommend a longer period of isolation: “It’s a real shame that the president’s isolation plan differs from the CDC’s recommendation.”

Many countries recommend a week of quarantine and two days of negative testing before the end of isolation. The CDC changed its guidelines in December in light of the original Omicron wave. Biden is also following broader White House protocol for staffers and reporters who test positive and are required to test negative before returning to the building.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the agency is considering changing the quarantine guidelines.

Richard Besser, executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the CDC, said that ideally, everyone would follow Biden’s path and wait for a negative test before coming out of isolation.

But he defended the current guidelines to recognize that millions of Americans simply cannot afford a week or more in the hole.

“For many people, 10 days of isolation is extremely difficult,” Besser said. “Not everyone has the luxury of being able to do that.”

Instead, Besser said he supports federal officials encouraging people to wear higher-quality N95 and KN95 masks, which appear to do a better job of preventing the spread of the virus than cloth masks.

What is the threat to someone of Biden’s age who is vaccinated and boosted?

Since he is vaccinated and receiving paxlovide, Biden’s case is likely to remain mild, but scientists still understand relatively little about the long-term symptoms of Covid-19, which affects three out of 10 people who have had the disease.

“I would say the risk of him being hospitalized is very low,” said Celine Gonder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who is also the senior public health editor for Kaiser Health News. “For me, that’s probably the most important question, whether he has Covid for a long time.”

For a long time, Covid has been an umbrella term for a range of mild to severe symptoms, from breathing problems to brain fog and serious organ damage. CDC is Investigates whether prolonged illness can lead to death After analyzing death certificates in the last two years, it found 100 possible cases.

But it’s still hard to say what the current risk is to an older person who gets vaccinated and boosted, as health officials try to better understand the BA.5 variant and compile nationwide data on its severity.

“In terms of immune escape, transmission, spread, this is the worst option since the pandemic started,” Topol said. “The only reason we don’t see more deaths and more hospitalizations is because we have a wall of immunity built up from all the infections, boosters, vaccinations and the combination of all that.”

Daniel Payne contributed to this report.

Four questions about Biden’s Covid-19 diagnosis

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