When we learned on Thursday that President Biden had tested positive for COVID-19, it was a powerful reminder that no one is immune to this infection and that we recently hoped to emerge from this pandemic The trend is meaningless. We shouldn’t be surprised that a 79-year-old president, despite having been fully vaccinated twice and boosted twice, has had relatively mild cases of the disease. The president, who has not been wearing a mask all the time or following social distancing protocols, recently took a whirlwind trip overseas with foreign leaders.
Biden is now recuperating in the White House, both reassured us at his spokesman and doctor of all steps recommended by the CDC, including quarantining Biden and tracing all recent meetings with him Human contacts are in progress. He is receiving antiviral therapy with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid), which was granted emergency use authorization by the FDA late last year for the treatment of high-risk patients with mild to moderate disease.
This apparently rigorous approach to managing President Biden’s COVID-19 is both a compliment to the rapid progress we have made in managing the disease It was a stark contrast when Trump was diagnosed in October 2020. In the run-up to the vaccination, the mask-averse CEO was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital despite his backlash. Determined to show his constituents that he remains in charge, he almost immediately overruled the guidance of his doctors, the Secret Service and the CDC, leaving him waving at news cameras outside the hospital walls. We were never told how seriously ill he was. We do know he’s not on a ventilator and certainly not injecting bleach, and we hope his doctor isn’t prescribing hydroxychloroquine. He received Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, as well as remdesivir (Veklury), an antiviral drug now approved for COVID-19. Trump’s combination of obesity, age and unvaccinated status undoubtedly puts him at greater risk than his successors. However, he was able to recover and run for re-election before any vaccine was authorized. He was subsequently vaccinated.
We should be relieved that our ability to handle the COVID-19 presidential case has improved, but we must not be complacent. President Biden may make a full recovery soon, but he and his doctors must be wary of nimatrewe-ritonavir, or a COVID rebound after prolonged COVID symptoms, a frequently fatal disease affecting a small number of patients. The debilitating and little-known syndrome was the subject of congressional hearings this week. Fortunately for President Biden, long-term coronavirus infections are more likely to be found in the unvaccinated.
Most importantly, we must now recognize that in July 2022, when the President tests positive for COVID-19, in this case, using the BA.5 variant body, it’s a clear sign that the pandemic isn’t even over. It provides a worthwhile moment for the president and the public to evaluate the administration’s approach to managing it — it’s clear that a Biden administration needs to better manage the pandemic response in order to signal to the public that this remains a burst public health event. The government must continue to do everything possible to keep people healthy.
By now, almost everyone knows that someone has contracted COVID-19, or worse, died from it. Now, with 126,000 new cases reported every day, only 28.5% of U.S. adults over 50 have received two booster immunizations, less than one-third of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated with the primary series, and 21 % (1 in 5 of us) are not vaccinated at all and we can be sure many more will die.
We wish President Biden a speedy recovery, but since he now has some mandated shutdowns, we want him to give some fresh ideas on how his team can manage the nation’s COVID-19 response. The president has not vetoed or discredited his scientific and medical advisers like his predecessors, let alone brought unqualified and divisive people into the White House, but that doesn’t mean this administration’s approach to pandemic management has model. Now the problem isn’t talent: Surgeon Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, is a world-class expert; Medicine at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci (for the remainder of this presidency) and FDA’s Robert Califf, MD, also know their stuff. And CDC’s Rochelle Walensky, MD, learned from previous mistakes.
The issue remains responsibility and discipline.
Unfortunately, this week’s announcement that the new Pandemic Response Unit within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at HHS, which is reportedly on par with the FDA, CDC, and NIH, appears to be wrong Yes, a serious blow to the CDC at best. All the scientific expertise and partnerships with states are in Atlanta, and the ASPR is certainly a political entity within the Belt and Road. How could a 40-year-old president who has a stake in the long-standing bureaucratic border dispute between the FDA, CDC, and NIH think a fourth bureaucracy can get us out of the woods at this point? Also, how does the addition of this bureaucracy affect HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, JD’s approach to strategic management? Despite his admirable legal and legislative background, he has no previous experience in science and public health? The “Strategic” management section is nowhere to be found.
Get better, President Biden. And do better.
Scott C. Ratzan, MD, MPA, MA, Distinguished Lecturer and Editor, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy – General Director of the Journal of Health Communication . Kenneth H. Rabin, Ph.D., M.S., Senior Scholar, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York. Lawrence O. Gostin, J.D., is a college professor at the highest academic level at Georgetown University, where he leads the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. He is also Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for National and Global Health Law. He is the author of the book, Global Health Security: A Blueprint for the Future.