White House uses Biden’s COVID infection to stress importance of vaccination

White House Covid Response Coordinator Ashish Jha speaks about President Joe Biden’s positive COVID-19 test during a briefing at the White House, Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Washington. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre listens at left. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

White House officials on Thursday used President Biden’s positive test for COVID-19 to stress the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus as a new variant spread across the country.

“Because the president is fully vaccinated, double boosted, his risk of serious illness is dramatically lower,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, told reporters at a press briefing. 

“We have worked very hard over the last 18 months to make sure we have plenty of vaccines, plenty of therapies, that people can get tested on a regular basis… and we all know from medicine that early treatment is always better,” Jha added.

Biden, 79, tested positive for the virus earlier Thursday as part of routine testing, the White House said. He has mild symptoms, but officials have said he is still working from the residence and doing well.

When asked about the president’s risk of serious illness and his condition, Jha repeatedly returned to the importance of Biden having gotten two vaccine shots, plus two booster shots to guard against the virus.

“The good news is — and this was always the point — the good news is his immune system is very well protected given the four vaccine shots he’s gotten. He’s getting treatment. He’s feeling fine. His words,” Jha said.

Jha urged Americans, especially those over 50, to get their shot to reduce their risk of serious symptoms as BA.5, a subvariant of the omicron strain of the coronavirus that is driving an uptick in cases across the country.

Jha and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also emphasized the importance of the administration’s work in distributing vaccines and making antiviral treatment options like Paxlovid available.

“The president has done the work to make sure more than 200 million people in this country have been vaccinated,” Jean-Pierre said, noting more than 100 million have gotten boosted. “That’s because we have a comprehensive plan so they can be protected. So that is what’s most important here.”

Tags Ashish Jha Ashish Jha BA.5 variant Biden COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines Joe Biden Karine Jean-Pierre
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