Doctors here seeing COVID rebound cases similar to Biden case

President Joe Biden makes his his first public appearance on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in the Rose Garden since testing negative for COVID-19. The president tested positive on Saturday, July 30, and will once again isolate, though his symptoms have not come back, the White House physician said. (Cheriss May/The New York Times)

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President Joe Biden makes his his first public appearance on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in the Rose Garden since testing negative for COVID-19. The president tested positive on Saturday, July 30, and will once again isolate, though his symptoms have not come back, the White House physician said. (Cheriss May/The New York Times)

Health workers also anticipate more reinfections will become common as time goes on in the pandemic.

Area doctors are seeing the “rebound” of COVID-19 cases in patients similar to what the White House reported on Saturday that President Joe Biden is experiencing

Biden tested negative for COVID on Tuesday through Friday of last week, but on Saturday, the White House stated the president has tested positive again through antigen testing. Biden continues to isolate in the executive residence of the White House with reports that he is not experiencing a reemergence of symptoms.

This “rebound” phenomenon is something the medical community is seeing with patients treated with Paxlovid, which is used to suppress the COVID infection, said Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer of Miami Valley Hospital.

“We are noticing there are more people reporting this rebound after they have (completed taking Paxlovid),” Colon said. He explained a rebound case of COVID is when a patient gets COVID, gets over it, and then, within a few days, has a resurgence of the virus, or an acute infection.

According to the FDA, Paxlovid has emergency authorization use for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults, as well as certain pediatric patients over the age of 12, who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19. In a clinical trial studying Paxlovid, the medication reduced the proportion of people being hospitalized or dying from COVID by 88%.

Colon said Paxlovid still works as advertised and prevents more severe illness from the virus, even when these rebound cases occur. The concern with rebound COVID is that people are still infectious.

“We don’t yet have a great sense of how often the rebound phenomena is occurring,” Colon said, explaining there has not been a large enough study to answer that question and the rebound cases are not being tracked. The president’s physician noted it was a “small percentage of patients” treated with Paxlovid.

These rebound cases are different than reinfections. Doctors describe reinfections as when patients recover from COVID-19 and completely rid themselves of the virus before getting COVID-19 again after a larger amount of time has passed, more than a few days.

Colon said doctors are seeing this more with the newer variants of COVID-19, like the subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant. He explained these new variants are different enough from past variants to overcome immune defenses and cause patients to get COVID again.

Doctors also anticipate more reinfections will become common as time goes on in the pandemic.

“We are actually seeing this pretty often,” Colon said about COVID reinfections. He said the body still offers some protection from the previous COVID antibodies.

The risk with COVID reinfections appears to be a greater risk of people getting long COVID. Colon said every infection someone gets increases their risk of developing more problems and increasing the risk for long COVID.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes long COVID, or “post-COVID conditions,” as when people who have been infected with the virus continue to experience the long-term effects of their infection. Those can include a range of ongoing health issues, from general symptoms of fatigue to respiratory and heart symptoms, neurological symptoms like “brain fog,” and digestive symptoms.

According to the CDC, a survey in June showed that of adults in the U.S. who reported having COVID-19 in the past, one in five of those adults also reported they are still having symptoms of long COVID.

Studies are ongoing to help health officials understand more about COVID reinfections and risks associated with reinfection.

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