Biden likely contracted BA.5, but symptoms improving, doctor says


(The Hill) – President Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms are still improving but he now has a sore throat and body aches, his physician Kevin O’Connor said in a memorandum released by the White House on Saturday.  

O’Connor also reported that Biden likely contracted the BA.5 variant, which makes up the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States.  

“His symptoms continue to improve,” O’Connor wrote. “His primary symptoms, though less troublesome, now include sore throat, rhinorrhea, loose cough and body aches. His voice remains deep. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain entirely normal. His oxygen saturation continues to be excellent on room air. His lungs remain clear.” 

The term “rhinorrhea” is used to refer to a runny nose. Biden had previously reported mild symptoms of a runny nose, cough and fatigue, according to updates from the White House.  

Biden, who is vaccinated against COVID-19, is experiencing “no shortness of breath at all,” O’Connor stressed on Saturday.  

O’Connor’s update came two days after the president tested positive for the virus. He said that Biden will continue to take the antiviral Paxlovid, which he said the president is tolerating “well.”  

The physician said that Biden would continue to drink water, take Tylenol, and use an inhaler two to three times a day in order to treat his symptoms in addition to taking Paxlovid, which is used in COVID-19 patients to prevent serious illness.  

O’Connor said the determination that Biden likely contracted the BA.5 variant would not impact his treatment plan.  

Biden, who is 79 years old, is at higher risk of severe illness because of his age, but health experts say that he’s unlikely to fall seriously ill because he is up-to-date on his vaccinations and is receiving Paxlovid.  

The president has no public events on his schedule on Saturday. He attended meetings virtually on Friday, as the White House stressed that he continues to carry out the presidential duties despite his illness.  

The White House has posted photos of Biden in isolation making calls and signing legislation. Biden made his first public appearance since his diagnosis on Friday as he phoned in virtually to a meeting with his economic team about falling gas prices.  

Asked by the press how he was feeling, Biden offered a thumbs-up.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha fielded questions about Biden’s condition on Thursday and Friday but there is no briefing scheduled over the weekend. 

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