The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden had tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing “very mild symptoms.”
The White House said Biden had begun taking Paxlovid, the antiviral Covid treatment, and will isolate, canceling a planned Thursday trip to Pennsylvania. In a video posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon Biden said he is doing well and getting a lot of work done. “Keep the faith. It’s going to be okay,” he said.
A reminder that the virus is still spreading: “The virus is still infecting almost 1 million people a day worldwide, without accounting for people who are infected and never tested,” Bloomberg News reports. “Infections have been on the rise in the US because of more transmissible omicron subvariants like BA.4 and BA.5.”
An indication of how far we’ve come: When former President Donald Trump got Covid nearly two years ago “it was the dominant news story for days, with the presidential election just a month away,” The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach and Lenny Bernstein write. “Biden’s illness, though a thunderclap of news amid the swelter of summertime Washington, seems less likely to rattle the political world for the simple reason that the virus has become less deadly.”
Vaccines and treatments have made the difference, and the strains of the virus that are dominant today, while far more transmissible, may be less virulent. White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said that Biden’s risk of serious illness is “dramatically lower” because he’s fully vaccinated and has received two boosters.
Fueling a push for vaccinations and boosters: White House officials sought to use the news to impress upon Americans the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted. “It’s a reminder of the reason that we all work so hard to make sure every American has the same level of protection the president has, that every American has the same level of immunity the president has,” Jha said.