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Biden likely has highly contagious coronavirus subvariant BA.5, doctor says

President Biden speaks virtually during a meeting while at a desk.
President Biden speaks virtually during a meeting with his economic team in the White House complex in Washington on Friday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Biden probably contracted a highly contagious subvariant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly through the U.S., and now has body aches and a sore throat since his positive test, according to an update from his doctor Saturday.

The subvariant, known as BA.5, is an offshoot of the Omicron strain that emerged late last year, and it’s believed to be responsible for the vast majority of coronavirus cases in the country.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, wrote in his latest update on Biden’s condition that his earlier symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have become “less troublesome.” O’Connor’s earlier notes did not mention the sore throat or body aches.

Biden’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, “remain entirely normal,” and his oxygen saturation levels are “excellent” with “no shortness of breath at all,” the doctor wrote.

O’Connor said the results of the preliminary sequencing that indicated the BA.5 variant do not affect Biden’s treatment plan “in any way.”

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Weekly coronavirus cases, while showing signs of flattening in L.A. County, remain elevated as a decision on reimposing an indoor mask mandate looms.

Biden tested positive for the virus Thursday morning. He has been isolating in the White House residence since then. Administration officials have emphasized that his symptoms are mild because he has received four vaccine doses, and he started taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid after becoming infected.

During a virtual meeting with economic advisors Friday, Biden was hoarse but said, “I feel much better than I sound.”

In his previous update on Biden’s health, O’Connor said the president had an elevated temperature of 99.4 degrees on Thursday evening, but it returned to normal after he had taken Tylenol.


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