Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady's communications director, announced the development in an Aug. 16 statement.
"After testing negative for COVID-19 on [Aug. 15] during her regular testing cadence, the first lady began to develop cold-like symptoms late in the evening. [She] tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PCR test came back positive."
"She is currently staying at a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after she receives two consecutive negative COVID tests," Alexander wrote. "Close contacts of the first lady have been notified."
The first lady, 71, is double vaccinated and has received two boosters, proving that the vaccines do not prevent infection at all. According to her spokeswoman, this was the first time Jill contracted COVID-19.
This happened nearly a month after President Joe Biden contracted COVID-19. The 79-year-old chief executive tested positive for the disease on July 21, with mild symptoms. According to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the president is "fully vaccinated and twice boosted."
Aside from the Bidens, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also tested positive for COVID-19 again despite getting four vaccine doses.
"This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and will quarantine at home for the next five days in accordance with CDC guidelines. I will retain all authorities and plan to maintain my normal work schedule virtually from home," he said in an Aug. 15 statement published on the Department of Defense's website.
According to Alexander, the first lady was given a course of Pfizer's antiviral drug Paxlovid. However, the drug has been known to cause rebound infections – where people who take the drug experience worse symptoms and test positive for COVID-19 once more. (Related: FDA admits Pfizer antiviral oral drug paxlovid causes life-threatening reactions when taken with common medicines.)
Her husband experienced this firsthand, three days after finishing his isolation. The president returned a negative test result on July 27 after completing the five-day treatment. But on July 30, he tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently reentered isolation for about a week.
Despite the rebound infection, White House Chief Physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor advised that there is no reason for the chief executive to undergo another round of Paxlovid treatment.
Manufactured by the New York-based Pfizer, Paxlovid is a combination of two antiviral drugs – nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. Nirmatrelvir "has demonstrated antiviral activity against all coronaviruses that are known to infect humans," as per the National Institutes of Health. Ritonavir, which was previously used against HIV, ensures that there is enough levels of nirmatrelvir in the body.
Back in May 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert about rebound infections in people who take Paxlovid for COVID-19.
"A brief return of symptoms may be part of the natural history of SARS-CoV-2 … infection in some persons, independent of treatment with Paxlovid and regardless of vaccination status," said the alert.
"Limited information currently available from case reports suggests that persons treated with Paxlovid who experience COVID-19 rebound have had mild illness; there are no reports of severe disease. There is currently no evidence that additional treatment is needed with Paxlovid or other anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapies in cases where COVID-19 rebound is suspected."
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