White House’s double-boosted covid czar has “mild symptoms”
President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, the White House has confirmed. The 81-year-old public health official diagnosed himself with a rapid antigen test and is experiencing mild symptoms, said the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Dr. Fauci will follow the [Covid]-19 guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and medical advice from his physician and return to the NIH when he tests negative,” the NIH said in a statement, adding that he will work from home until then.
This was the first time Fauci tested positive for the virus, according to the Washington Post, which added that the doctor has received two doses of the Moderna vaccine and two booster shots as well.
The White House said Fauci had not been in what the CDC defines as “close contact” with Biden or other senior government officials. About half of Biden’s cabinet have caught covid recently, with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testing positive for the virus earlier this week, for the second time in a month.
Fauci had been scheduled to testify before the Senate Health Committee on Thursday morning about the current state of the US government’s coronavirus response, alongside CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. It was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon whether he would appear by video link or be absent entirely.
In April, Fauci declared the “pandemic phase” of covid over for the US, but added that the virus will not be eradicated, only kept at “very low” levels of infection through intermittent vaccinations.
Fauci has led the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, and played a prominent role in the US response to the AIDS epidemic. He was elevated to a cult-like figure by Democrats in 2020, however, after clashing with President Donald Trump over the US government’s response to Covid-19.
Biden campaigned on “trusting Fauci” and upon taking office, elevated him to top medical adviser and put him in charge of his administration’s pandemic response. The masking and vaccination mandates championed by Fauci have since been struck down by courts as overreach.