Joe Biden catches Covid amid cancer gaffe

WASHINGTON: Almost inevitably, US President Joe Biden has also caught Covid, furthering the impression that infection from the virus is inescapable for all but the most cautious and isolated.
The White House announced that the President tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday morning and is experiencing “very mild symptoms.”
In a letter released by the White House, the President’s physician Dr Kevin O’Connor said he was experiencing fatigue, a runny nose and an occasional dry cough.
“I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do,” Dr. O’Connor said, as the White House revealed Biden is receiving Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to minimize the severity of Covid-19.
Biden, who is 79, caught the virus despite being double-vaccinated and twice-boosted. He will isolate at the White House but “continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The White House also confirmed that Vice President Kamala Harris, who was last with the president on Tuesday, tested negative.
News of Biden catching Covid came hours after the US President triggered alarm by suggesting — in comment replete with his familiar mangled syntax– that he had cancer.
Biden was delivering remarks about global warming and emissions from oil refineries near his childhood home in Delaware when he said, “That’s why I and so damn many other people I grew up with have cancer and why for the longest time Delaware had the highest cancer rate in the nation.”
Aides rushed to clarify he was talking about his “localized, non-melanoma skin cancers” — which are fairly common — that were surgically removed before he became president.
The US President, who undertook a strenuous trip to the Middle East last week, engaged many leaders in the region, shaking hands with them and exchanging first bumps with the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman. Before that he traveled to Tokyo in May for the Quad summit during which he met Prime Minister Modi.
At home too he has resumed normal schedule, meeting foreign leaders, traveling domestically, and hosting crowded events at the White House as fears about the lethality of the virus has receded in the US and across the world, mostly on the basis of effective vaccines and medication that appear to mitigate symptoms and cut down hospitalisation.
Biden attended a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in late April during which he acknowledged the risks of attending large events, but said it was worthwhile, signalling to America that life is returning to normal. Since then there has been a significant uptick in the new BA5 Omicron variant, but no one is spooked about it because hospitalisations and death rates remain low.

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