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Biden ends isolation in White House after negative Covid tests

After two negative tests, Biden, who had experienced Paxlovid rebound, traveled to Delaware on Sunday.
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden takes off his mask as he speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 27.Susan Walsh / AP file

President Joe Biden traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Sunday after he ended isolation in the White House following two negative tests for Covid.

"This morning, the president's SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing was negative for a second consecutive day," Dr. Kevin O'Connor, the White House physician, wrote in a letter Sunday. "He will safely return to public engagement and presidential travel."

Biden told reporters he was feeling great as he walked out of the White House to board Marine One on his way to his home state, where first lady Jill Biden has been staying during his Covid infection.

Biden, 79, who has been fully vaccinated and boosted twice, first tested positive for Covid on July 21 during a routine test and was treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. After several days of treatment and isolation, he tested negative. At the time, O’Connor said his symptoms had almost completely resolved themselves.

But Biden tested positive again on July 30 in what O'Connor called a "rebound" case. Biden immediately returned to strict isolation measures, but he did not restart treatment. Finally, he tested negative Saturday but remained in isolation until he received his second negative test Sunday.

A small number of people who take Paxlovid to treat Covid experience rebound cases. Around 1% to 2% of those taking Paxlovid in Pfizer’s clinical trial tested positive for the coronavirus after having tested negative. Rebound rates are around 5% among the tens of thousands of people who have taken the drug in real-life settings, Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid response coordinator, has said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, who had Covid in June, also said he went through a Paxlovid rebound.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned about the possible recurrence in May and said people who test positive again might still be contagious and should restart isolation for at least five days.

The Bidens will travel Monday to eastern Kentucky, where they will join Gov. Andy Beshear in visiting families affected by the devastation from recent flooding, the White House said Friday.