Coughing Biden sparks concern as Psaki says it’s just allergies

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Coughing Biden sparks concern as Psaki says it's just allergies

Get that man a Zyrtec.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday assured reporters that President Biden’s persistent cough is the result of allergies and not a more serious medical condition.

Biden, who turns 79 next month, coughed and cleared his throat repeatedly Friday during public remarks, including at an event on the White House lawn with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Biden and his doctor in the past attributed his frequent hacking when he speaks in public to either a cold or the effects of gastric reflux.

“He’s doing great. He has got some allergies,” Psaki said as she walked away from the podium at her daily briefing, responding to a shouted question from journalist Brian Karem.

Biden has not yet honored the tradition of releasing the results of an annual presidential physical.

The commander in chief’s cough has repeatedly raised health concerns. NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell asked Psaki just last month about it.

“Many of us were in the East Room watching the president. We’ve seen him on many occasions where he has a repeated cough. What is the situation with that cough? And is that a concern?” the veteran journalist asked Psaki.

“It’s not a concern,” Psaki said. “We have a doctor who travels with him, obviously, who checks in if there is — it is ever warranted. And certainly, that continues to be the case, as it has been since the beginning of his presidency.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki claims President Joe Biden “has got some allergies,” after coughing constantly in public appearances.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

O’Donnell, who was elected this year to be president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, with a term beginning in 2023, pressed Psaki further.

“Is there an explanation for why he coughed so frequently in situations like that? I’m sure you saw it,” the reporter asked.

“I did,” Psaki said. “I don’t think it’s an issue of concern.”

Psaki added: “I think there are a range of reasons why we may need to clear our throat or we may have a little light cold. And that’s certainly something that presidents, elected officials, reporters, spokespeople can confront, but it’s not an area where we have a medical concern.”

The explanation for Biden’s frequent coughing has changed over time.

In December 2020, the then-president-elect said, “I have a little bit of a cold, I’m sorry.”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden coughs while speaking outside the White House on Oct. 8, 2021.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

A 2019 report from his physician, Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, blamed gastro-esophageal reflux.

“Biden is a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency,” O’Connor wrote.

The doctor wrote that the stomach-acid reflux may “contribute to occasional cough and sinus congestion” and that “[Biden] has received endoscopy to rule out any more significant disease.”

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