Joe Biden compared his “quick recovery” to former President Donald Trump’s “severe” illness in a speech to the nation from the White House after he tested negative for Covid-19 and returned to work in person.
The 79-year-old said he was infected by the BA.5 variant, which is connected to the Omicron variant of the virus that wreaked havoc across the US this winter.
“The reality is that many of us are still going to get Covid, even if we take the precautions”, Mr Biden said. “That doesn’t mean we’re doing anything wrong.”
“My recovery was quick and I’m feeling great”, he said in the Rose Garden.
He added that it was “real statement on where we are in the fight against Covid” that he was able to continue to work remotely from the White House residence during his isolation.
“This new variant that infected me is getting a lot of people infected all around the world, not just here in the United States”, Mr Biden said.
The president boasted about the measures his administration has taken to get the virus under control.
“My administration has made billions of dollars in funding available to improve ventilation in our schools and our public buildings”, he said. “We’ve made tests widely available, so you can take one before attending a large indoor gathering or visiting with high-risk individuals. We made high-quality masks available for free. So you should consider wearing a mask when you’re in a crowded indoor public place. These precautions add an extra layer of protection for you and for those around you.”
“Our fight against Covid is making a huge difference”, Mr Biden said, adding that “what’s different now is our ability to protect ourselves” against “serious illness”.
He said it was “radically different today than it was just a year ago”.
“Even with cases climbing in this country, Covid deaths are down nearly 90 per cent”, he added.
“Booster shots weren’t available a year ago. They are now everywhere. Every person aged five and over should get a booster shot. If you’re over 50 years old, you should get two booster shots”, the president said.
Mr Biden also pushed the drug he used during his isolation, Paxlovid, saying the FDA has “put in a special rule so many pharmacists can prescribe this particular drug”.
He claimed the drug reduces the risk of “hospitalization and death … by about 90 per cent”.
Mr Biden then referenced Mr Trump’s fight with Covid-19 shortly before the 2020 election.
“When my predecessor got Covid, he had to get a helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered”, he said.
“I got Covid and I worked from upstairs in the White House … for the five-day period”, he added. “The difference is vaccinations of course, but also three new tools free to all and widely available. You don’t need to be president to get these tools used for your defence. In fact, the same booster shots, the same at home test, the same treatment that I got. It’s available to you.”