US President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms “have improved”, his doctor has said, as his pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels remain “entirely normal”.
In a memo (PDF) released by the White house on, Biden physician, Keven O’Connor, said the US president was experiencing a runny nose, fatigue and “an occasional non-productive, now ‘loose’ cough”.
O’Connor also said that Biden had a slight fever on Thursday evening, but it responded “favorably” to a generic pain relief medication. “His temperature has remained normal since then,” the doctor’s memo reads.
Biden, who tested positive for COVID on Thursday, is continuing to take the antiviral medication Paxlovid, intended to lower risk of hospitalisation and death for those most vulnerable. At 79 years old, the president falls into that category, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To take the Paxlovid, Biden has had to stop taking two other medications that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. O’Connor said Biden will stop taking these medications during the course of Paxlovid treatment, usually a five-day treatment, and “for several days after his last dose”. During that time, the president will take “low dose aspirin as an alternative type of blood thinner”.
On Friday, the White House released a photo of Biden – masked at his desk – making a phone call while looking at a paper note, with the caption: “President Biden continued working from the White House this morning, including speaking by phone with his national security team.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she spoke with Biden, adding that he had received his daily briefing and met with his economic team virtually earlier on Friday.
“I asked him if he had a message for the American people. The president said he’s still putting in eight plus hours of work a day, and that he wants to remind Americans to get vaccinated because – in his own words – it matters,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Biden and the White House have stressed that the president is fully vaccinated and double-boosted for COVID, which lowers his risk of serious illness. Officials have taken the opportunity to encourage others to get the vaccine.
“Get vaccinated,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters on Thursday. “If you have a breakthrough infection, get treated; it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself.”
The Biden administration has been urging Americans to get vaccinated and boosted amid a spike in COVID cases, driven by highly contagious Omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5.
“Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection against severe outcomes,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said earlier this month.
Despite the COVID diagnosis, Biden has continued to carry out his duties as president. On Thursday, he signed into law the “Formula Act”, which aims to combat the baby formula shortages that the US has been experiencing.
“I really appreciate your inquiries and concerns,” Biden said in a video message on Thursday. “But I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done, going to continue to get it done. And in the meantime, thanks for your concern and keep the faith. It’s going to be OK.”