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University Health doctor explains medication President Joe Biden is using to treat COVID-19

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 18:23:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Joe Biden's COVID-19 diagnosis has many people asking about his treatment.

In a letter, the President's doctor said he was being treated with Paxlovid.

"It's been shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID by 90 percent," explained Dr. Mark Steele with University Health. "Being vaccinated, fully boosted, and if you're particularly high risk, taking the Paxlovid, that's another layer of protection to keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying from COVID."

Dr. Steele is the executive chief medical officer at University Health. He explained the medication works to reduce the virus from replicating. However, it's not for everyone.

"It's for people who are high risk of developing severe COVID, so those that are more likely to end up potentially in the hospital or dying from COVID." Dr. Steele said.

At 79, President Biden falls under the high-risk category and joins a growing list of American's diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Mid-America Regional Council reports a 16% increase in new cases across the Kansas City Metro.

The increase in cases come at a time when the BA.5 variant is spreading across the country.

In a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday, Dr. Steele was asked about the effectiveness of Paxlovid against BA.5.

"We don't think that the different variants will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of Paxlovid, but obviously, time will tell as we do further studies," said Dr. Steele.

According to the FDA, Paxlovid is for people with mild to moderate symptoms and should be taken as soon as possible.

The medication is prescribed, but Dr. Steele cautions people before contacting their pharmacist.

"There are a number of drug-drug interactions, so that's why it's important that you talk to your provider and or pharmacist because they need to make sure that you are eligible to take this and that you are not on current medications that would preclude you from taking Paxlovid," Dr. Steele said.

The White House said President Biden is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, and Dr. Steele said vaccination is still the best protection against serious illness or death from COVID-19.