Here’s an overview of possible treatments US President Joe Biden will receive for Covid-19 and the risks he faces as he is most likely infected with the rapidly spreading but less severe BA.5 variant.
At age 79, the president falls into a high-risk category for Covid but has the benefit of medical advances that increase his chances of a full recovery.
Biden has received four doses of highly effective Covid-19 vaccines — a two-course primary series and two booster shots that protect against serious illness and death.
The president has also started Pfizer Inc’s antiviral drug cocktail Paxlovid, a combination of two pills shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of serious illness by nearly 90% in high-risk patients if taken within the first five days. be taken after infection.
Doctors say a lot has changed since President Donald Trump was infected in 2020 at the age of 74.
“This is a very different situation from Trump’s infection, which happened before medical countermeasures like the vaccine and Paxlovid were available,” wrote Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in an email.
dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency room specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, agreed.
“Biden is not remotely in the same risk category as Trump was,” Faust tweeted, citing Biden’s four doses of vaccine and the drug Paxlovid.
dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health in New York, who does not treat the president, said Paxlovid is likely the only treatment the president will receive unless his symptoms worsen.
Risks and Complications
A small but significant percentage of people taking Paxlovid experience a relapse or rebound that occurs days after the five-day course of treatment ends.
Such was the case with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical officer, who was infected with Covid last month, took Paxlovid, started testing negative and then experienced an infection rebound.
Fauci was given a second course of Paxlovid from his personal doctor, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no evidence that such additional treatment is needed.
Even with the vaccines and the benefit of a powerful antiviral drug, a small percentage of the elderly end up in the hospital.
An important indicator to keep an eye on is the president’s oxygen saturation level. If it falls below 94%, or if he shows signs of breathing difficulties, that would warrant hospitalization, experts said.
Biden’s physical in late 2021 showed he was relatively healthy. He is not obese, a risk factor in Covid, and he does not have common health risks of the elderly, such as heart failure.
The one exception is that he has a common condition known as atrial fibrillation or AFib, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The condition increases the president’s risk of serious illness, Adalja said. “I think it probably doesn’t outweigh his vaccination status and Paxlovid.”
The president takes the anticoagulant Eliquis, commonly known as apixaban, to treat his AFib, as well as the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Crestor.
Because both drugs interact negatively with Paxlovid, the White House said the president has temporarily stopped taking them.
Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz said short periods without an anticoagulant carried minimal risk. AFib was also a major concern because of the current variant.
“There’s almost no escaping this variant and so we’re seeing rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths — but the extra deaths are still well below the peaks of previous waves,” he said.