WASHINGTON — President Biden’s physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said Monday that Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms are nearly gone.
Biden, 79, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday morning and is being treated with a five-day regimen of antiviral Paxlovid.
“President Biden completed his fourth full day of Paxlovid last night. His symptoms have now almost completely resolved,” O’Connor wrote in a public memo.
“When questioned, at this point he only notes some residual nasal congestion and minimal hoarseness. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain absolutely normal,” O’Connor wrote.
O’Connor suspended Biden’s use of two heart medications Thursday to prevent poor drug interactions. Biden is temporarily taking aspirin instead of anticoagulant Eliquis, which prevents strokes in people who have atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat.
“He is experiencing no shortness of breath at all. He will continue low dose aspirin as an alternative type of blood thinner,” O’Connor wrote Monday.
The White House has refused to allow O’Connor to appear before reporters to directly answer questions — as did then-President Donald Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley when Trump had COVID-19 in October 2020.
Because reporters lack direct access to O’Connor, some details about Biden’s case remain murky as they are relayed secondhand at briefings by the Biden administration’s pandemic response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha.
In one example, O’Connor wrote in a Friday memo that he gave Biden Tylenol after the president had an elevated temperature of 99.4°F, giving the impression the medication was meant to reduce his temperature. But Jha said that it was administered for unrelated “discomfort.”
It’s also unclear when exactly Biden began to experience symptoms before he tested positive on a routine test. The confusion developed after journalists asked if Biden should have proactively reported his symptoms.
On Thursday, O’Connor wrote in a memo, “President Biden is currently experiencing mild symptoms, mostly rhinorrhea (or ‘runny nose’) and fatigue, with an occasional dry cough, which started yesterday evening.” But on Friday, Jha said at a briefing that “the only thing he said he felt before he went to bed was he felt tired. He did not have a cough, did not have any other symptoms on Wednesday night.”
On Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was rebuked on the lack of transparency by National Journal reporter George Condon, who is respected for his deep historical knowledge of White House press operations from his decades on the beat.
“The question is when will Dr. O’Connor come out? Because to just put out a statement and shield him from questions would be the least transparency of any White House in 50 years on a presidential illness,” Condon said.
Biden, who turns 80 in November, is quadruple-vaccinated, which reduced his risk of serious illness. Some reporters speculate that O’Connor is not taking questions because journalists might ask about unrelated matters, such as whether Biden is experiencing age-related cognitive decline.