Biden tests positive for COVID, has mild symptoms

STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden has COVID-19.

That's according to a White House statement on Thursday, which said Biden tested positive for the highly-contagious respiratory illness.

The statement from press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said his symptoms are so far mild

She said the president would continue to work in isolation and had begun a course of the antiviral treatment Paxlovid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said the B.A.5 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now circulating in the U.S. accounts for almost 80 percent of cases in the country.

White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci - who himself recently recovered from COVID-19 - last week warned that B.A. 5 appeared to overcome immunity from vaccination or prior infection, but that vaccines were still very effective at reducing serious illness:

"We know immunity wanes with coronaviruses, whether that is natural infection or vaccination [flash] But the vaccine effectiveness against severe disease, fortunately for us, is not reduced substantially or at all compared to other Omicron sub variants."

Joe Biden received two rounds of an initial vaccine, and subsequently two boosters, the latest one in March.

News of his illness comes one week after Biden returned from a trip to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. He bumped fists, shook hands and kissed cheeks despite a White House announcement that he'd reduce direct contact.

He is not the first U.S. leader to contract the virus: former President Donald Trump was hospitalized, spending three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in October 2020, before recovering.

Biden is 79 years old, the oldest serving president in U.S. history.

Press secretary Jean-Pierre said the White House will provide a daily update on the president's health.