President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19, the White House said.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Mr. Biden was experiencing “mild symptoms” and had started taking paxlovide, an antiviral drug designed to reduce the severity of the disease.
He said Mr. Biden “will remain isolated at the White House and will continue to fulfill all of his duties in full during that time. He contacted White House staff by phone this morning and will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence.”
Mr Biden, 79, is fully vaccinated after receiving two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster shot in September and an additional dose on March 30.
The White House statement added: “In accordance with standard protocol for any positive case at the White House, the White House Medical Unit will notify all close contacts of the President today, including any members of Congress and any members of the media who have had contact with the President during his visit yesterday.
“The president’s last previous test for Covid was on Tuesday, when he had a negative test result.”
Mr. Biden has increasingly increased his travel schedule and resumed large indoor events where not everyone is tested.
Paxlovide, made by drugmaker Pfizer, has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by 90% in patients with severe disease, when administered within five days of symptom onset.
In an April 30 speech to more than 2,600 attendees at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Mr. Biden acknowledged the risks of attending the big event, but said it was worthwhile to attend.
“I know there are questions about whether we should gather here tonight because of Covid,” he said. “Well, we’re here to show the country that we’re going through this epidemic.”
Mr Biden is far from the first world leader – and not the first US president – to get the coronavirus, which has infected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and more than a dozen other leaders and high-ranking officials worldwide.
The White House has faced questions about Covid protocols surrounding the president. The spring Washington outbreak came weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased face-covering guidelines in much of the U.S.
Jane Psaki, the White House press secretary at the time, said Mr Biden believed that continuing to travel and host major events was “very important to him, to his presidency, to the American people”.
He added of Mr. Biden: “Just like many Americans, he assesses the risks.”