Los Angeles Times

Biden improves ‘significan­tly’ but throat still sore

President’s doctor says he ‘is responding to therapy as expected.’

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WASHINGTON — President Biden continues to “improve significan­tly” despite a lingering sore throat from his COVID-19 infection, according to an update Sunday from his doctor.

“The president is responding to therapy as expected,” wrote Dr. Kevin O’Connor in his latest note. Biden has been taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that helps reduce the chance of severe illness.

O’Connor wrote that Biden still has a sore throat, though other symptoms, including a cough, runny nose and body aches, “have diminished considerab­ly.”

Biden tested positive for the coronaviru­s Thursday morning. O’Connor said Saturday that the president probably became infected with a highly contagious subvariant, known as BA.5, that is spreading throughout the country. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinato­r, said Sunday, “It is the BA.5 variant.”

“Thank goodness our vaccines and therapeuti­cs work well against it, which is why I think the president’s doing well,” Jha told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Jha also gave a positive update on the president’s health.

“I checked in with his team late last night. He was feeling well. He had a good day yesterday,” Jha said.

That subvariant is an offshoot of the Omicron strain that emerged late last year. It is believed responsibl­e for the vast majority of COVID cases in the country. Biden has been isolating in the White House since then.

Administra­tion officials have emphasized that his symptoms are mild because he has received four vaccine doses, and he started taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid after becoming infected.

Jha pledged that the White House would continue to update the president’s condition and whether he might have longterm symptoms.

“We think it’s really important for the American people to know how well their president is doing,” he said.

“Obviously if he has persistent symptoms, obviously if any of them interfere with his ability to carry out his duties, we will disclose that early and often with the American people. But I suspect that this is going to be a course of COVID that we’ve seen in many Americans who have been fully vaccinated, double boosted, getting treated with those tools in hand,” Jha said. “The president’s been doing well and we’re going to expect that he’s going to continue to do so.”

Biden’s press secretary has said that 17 people, including members of the president’s senior staff and at least one member of Congress, were determined to have been in close contact with Biden when he might have been contagious. None has tested positive so far, Jha said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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