US President Joe Biden arrives for a signing ceremony for the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug 9, 2022. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
WASHINGTON / LONDON / PRAGUE - US President Joe Biden continues to test negative for COVID-19 but is suffering its lingering effects, the White House press office said on Tuesday, after he coughed repeatedly through a speech on the South Lawn.
Biden used to have asthma, Ashish Jha, the COVID-19 coordinator, told reporters in July, and has "reactive airway disease," which means he is prone to getting "a little bit of bronchospasm," or cough
Biden spoke to dozens of Congress members, including Republicans, as well as business executives and members of his Cabinet, in sweltering midday heat before signing the a US$53 billion bill aimed at boosting the US semiconductor industry.
His persistent congestion forced him to stop the speech at several points to turn aside and cough into his hand or sip water, drawing the attention of supporters and detractors alike on social media. The 79-year-old president recently suffered his second bout of COVID-19, and was isolated for over two weeks in the White House until Sunday.
"The President tested negative for COVID yesterday and this morning," the press office told the White House pool, soon after the speech ended.
Biden used to have asthma, Ashish Jha, the COVID-19 coordinator, told reporters in July, and has "reactive airway disease," which means he is prone to getting "a little bit of bronchospasm," or cough. He relied on an albuterol inhaler to alleviate his cough during his illness, and has previously used an inhaler while he had a cold, he said.
"What he’s experiencing right now is the lingering effects of getting COVID," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters later on Tuesday.
An election committee member wearing a protective equipment as a preventive measure against the coronavirus COVID-19 disease is pictured at a drive-in polling station for quarantined voters, on Oct 06, 2021 in Prague, ahead of the country's general election. (MICHAL CIZEK / AFP)
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Czech Republic have surpassed four million since the virus was first detected here in the spring of 2020, according to data published by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.
The country's first confirmed cases were reported on March 1, 2020 and have since risen to 4,002,616 - with 2,958 new cases being recorded on Monday. The total number does not include reinfections, said the ministry.
Experts believe the actual data to be higher, given the widespread availability of at-home tests whose results are not directly reported to health authorities.
Since the virus was first detected in the Czech Republic, 40,587 have succumbed to it. Previously published data by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) revealed that COVID-19 was "the most common cause of death" in 2021, having claimed almost 25,500 lives, representing 18 percent of the deaths last year.
Last month, the country started to administer a second booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all people aged over 18. Nearly 6.9 million people in the Czech Republic, with a total population of about 10.5 million, have been fully vaccinated.
A nurse administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a man in Prague, Czech Republic on July 18, 2022. (DANA KESNEROVA/XINHUA)
The European Medicines Agency has started a rolling review of a variant-adapted COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, it said on Tuesday.
The so-called bivalent vaccine targets two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID - the original strain first identified in China, and the Omicron offshoots BA.4/5 that are currently behind most cases in Europe.
A rolling review means the EMA assesses the data as it becomes available, and the process continues until there is enough data for a formal marketing application.
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