Covid-19 ‘rebound positivity’ explained after taking antiviral Paxlovid
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - President Joe Biden is back in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 again over the weekend due to ‘rebound positivity’.
“We’ve known about these rebound cases from Paxlovid, you know, going back all the way to May,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Health’s emergency medicine physician.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. It works by reducing the replication of the virus in the body by giving the immune system time to build up a response to eliminate the virus completely, but for some who took the anti-viral, like President Biden and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, it’s not enough.
“What happens is you test positive for COVID and you start your Paxlovid. You get better and you test negative and then at some point, 2 to 8 days later… you test positive again,” said Dr. Pothof.
Age may be a factor as President Biden is 79 years old and Dr. Fauci is 81 years old. They both reported similar rebound cases.
“It might in the sense that we think it’s, you know, the immune system isn’t working quite quickly enough. We certainly see it in people who are young, and healthy and their immune system should be fine but certainly, if you’re older, your immune system is a little bit slower and that could be one of the reasons that there’s a reactivation, although you can’t hang your hat on it and say that’s the only reason,” said Dr. Pothof.
Experts say although there is a reactivation of the virus, it doesn’t mean there are more severe symptoms. “What we know from that is no one who tests positive again gets severely ill,” said Dr. Pothof, “In fact, many of them have very mild symptoms, but we do think that it’s possible that can be infectious”
The possibility of being contagious again means isolation is key to stopping the spread.
Dr. Pothof says it may seem like a big inconvenience, but he said it’s better than a different alternative, which is why he says it’s still a good treatment for covid-19.
“Paxlovid reduces your risk of hospitalization by 80%. It’s inconvenient if you have a reactivation and you go back into some isolation, but you still are afforded the benefit of not getting severely ill and not going to the hospital. If you’re looking at days off of work, I’d rather be in isolation for five days than in the hospital for a week or two,” said Dr. Pothof.
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