WASHINGTON – President Biden finally tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, a week after his case of recovery emerged, but White House doctors said the president would remain isolated “out of an abundance of caution” until a second negative test.
Mr. Biden has stayed away from the Oval Office since then he tested positive again on July 30, though he has tried to maintain a public presence through video appearances from the White House residence. The recurrence of the virus has kept him off the road for political events and delayed summer vacation plans as well.
The president has experienced few symptoms during his rebound case, according to Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the White House physician, and he appeared in relatively good health in his video events over the past few days. “The president continues to do very well,” said Dr. O’Connor in a memo was released to reporters on Saturday.
Through the president’s first battle with Covid-19 and during his rebound case, Dr. O’Connor never appeared before reporters to answer questions, unlike previous White House physicians under other presidents. The White House has never given a clear explanation as to why. Dr. O’Connor’s daily notes have not yielded any theories about where or how the president was infected. White House officials have said that those believed to have been in close contact with Mr. Biden all tested negative.
The president was treated with Paxlovid early in his bout with Covid, and while the drug has been credited with great success in suppressing the virus and preventing serious falls and hospitalizations, a number of patients who have taken it have nonetheless tested positive again a few days after the last the dose of the five-day regimen.
Initial clinical studies showed that only about 1 percent to 2 percent of those treated with Paxlovid, which is made by Pfizer, experienced symptoms again. Subsequent studies of patients have found higher rates, but still in the single digits.
But some doctors and patients have speculated that the recovery rate could be even higher because of anecdotal experience and because of the characteristics of the highly contagious Omicron subvariants circulating this summer. Among those who have had a rebound case after taking Paxlovid was Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s medical adviser and a leading figure in the response to the pandemic.
Mr. Biden has been described by aides as eager to get out of seclusion and back on the road as the post-midterm congressional campaign heats up. As a result of his infection, he has had to cancel a number of planned trips and has limited his contact with aides, advisers and others at a time when he has made some important victories that he would like to promote.
“I wish I was with you in person, quite frankly,” he told Vice President Kamala Harris and several cabinet members over a video feed during an event Wednesday outlining his plans to take action to protect abortion rights. “But I’ll get there.”