President Biden’s COVID-19 diagnosis brings awareness to “more accessible” Paxlovid prescription

Since President Joe Biden announced he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, attention has been thrust upon Paxlovid nationwide.

A COVID-19 antiviral treatment pill produced by Pfizer, Paxlovid is the first oral treatment for the virus and Biden began taking it last week. The pill has received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for high-risk patients, including those of advanced age such as Biden, 79.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre provided further clarification on the president’s treatment and the plan moving forward in a statement on the White House’s website not long after Biden received results.

“He has begun taking Paxlovid,” Jean-Pierre said last Thursday, adding that the president tested negative two days beforehand. “Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.”

According to the FDA, Paxlovid, available by prescription only, “provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible.”

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

And Biden, who appeared in good spirits after the diagnosis, has the opportunity to further raise awareness for the pill.

“Hey folks, I guess you heard, this morning I tested positive for COVID,” Biden said in a Twitter video last week. “But I’ve been double vaccinated, double boosted. Symptoms are mild.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and other close contacts tested negative last week, as White House staff scrambled to shuffle Biden’s upcoming schedule.

Biden was in line, in fact, to attend an event in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, followed by a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia. Both appearances were canceled, and appearances, slated for this week, remained uncertain.

Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, was hospitalized after being infected with COVID-19 in October 2020. Trump contracted COVID-19 before vaccines were approved, and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for severe symptoms when he contracted the virus.

Other Biden administration officials, including Harris, have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past year, but this is the first time Biden contracted the virus. And his diagnosis made headlines as the BA.5 variant of the omicron strain spreads throughout the country.

The BA.5 variant makes up nearly 80% of current COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control data from July 16. And it circumvents previous immunity to COVID-19 from vaccination and past infections, posing a high risk of reinfection.

Jose Alonso is currently majoring in digital journalism at Florida International University. Aside from journalism, he enjoys creative writing, literature, and history.