WASHINGTON – Maybe it was just a matter of time.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the coronavirus pandemic, has tested positive for the virus and is experiencing “mild symptoms,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Wednesday.
Dr. Fauci, director of the institute, tested positive for a rapid antigen test, the agency said in a statement. He added that he was fully vaccinated against the virus and had been reinforced twice. She is taking Paxlovid, the Pfizer antiviral therapy authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Covid-19, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
The news that Dr. Fauci, one of the world’s leading infectious disease specialists and a well-known name thanks to the pandemic, had fallen victim to the coronavirus resonated in Washington and the country. The positive test was the first for Dr. Fauci, who is 81 years old.
But with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that more than half of Americans have contracted Covid-19, it is hardly the only one to suffer from a big name. Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, tested positive for the second time on Monday in less than a month. Rep. Maxine Waters, an 83-year-old California Democrat, announced Tuesday that she had tested positive; he had done the same in April.
Dr. Fauci has not been in close contact with Mr Biden or other senior government officials recently and will “isolate and continue to work from home,” his institute said in a statement. He will return to his office once negative.
But he had been making public appearances. The AIDS Clinical Trials Group, a network of hundreds of researchers conducting studies to improve the treatment of HIV and related infections, is meeting in Washington this week, and Dr. Fauci, whose lab work has focused on HIV / AIDS, addressed the group in person on Tuesday.
Along with other senior federal health officials, Dr. Fauci was expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Health Committee on the state of the pandemic. An official said that Dr. Fauci was working with committee staff to arrange a remote appearance.
Although much of the nation appears to be trying to move forward, coronavirus remains a widespread threat. According to a New York Times database, more than 100,000 new cases are still being identified every day in the United States, a figure that has remained roughly flat since June. Many experts believe that the number is an insufficient count because many people are testing at home whose results are not recorded with the public health authorities.
While cases are declining in the northeast and midwest, cases and hospitalizations are increasing in the west and south. Death reports, however, remain low. There are fewer than 350 deaths each day, according to The Times database, compared to more than 2,600 a day at the peak of Omicron’s rise.
Dr. Fauci has spent half a century in government and has advised seven presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, on epidemic and pandemic threats.
But the coronavirus pandemic turned him into a political lightning rod. His public instance of health precautions such as the use of masks and social distancing made him a frequent target of critics who questioned or opposed these measures.
Perhaps more than anyone, he knows how contagious the coronavirus is. This spring, he decided not to attend the White House correspondents’ dinner, a meeting of prominent political figures and the media that featured an appearance by the president, “because of my individual assessment of my personal risk.” he said then. At that time, Dr. Fauci was preparing for other public engagements, including graduation speeches at Princeton and the University of Michigan.
The correspondents’ dinner, which drew more than 2,000 guests to the ballroom of a packed hotel, ended up spreading the virus among many journalists and other attendees.
“It’s a matter of time before we all get infected, honestly; “This virus has become so transmissible,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University, said Wednesday. ” we are doing more things and we are coming together. And if you come across the virus, you better get vaccinated and recommended. “