Dr. Anthony Fauci said he anticipates “further clarification” on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidelines to end the Covid-19 isolation period after just five days for people who are not exhibiting symptoms.
Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday whether the CDC’s shorter Covid-19 isolation guidelines were driven by science or by societal and business pressures, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said, “There’s no doubt that you do want to get people out into the workplace if they are without symptoms.”
“In the second half of a 10-day period, which would normally be a 10-day isolation period, the likelihood of transmissibility is considerably lower,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“For that reason, the CDC made the judgment that it would be relatively low risk to get people out. You’re right – people are getting concerned about why not test people at that time? I, myself, feel that that’s a reasonable thing to do. I believe that the CDC soon will be coming out with more clarification of that, since it obviously has generated a number of questions about at that five-day period, should you or should you not be testing people? There will be further clarification of that coming very soon,” Fauci said.
Fauci’s latest comments on testing as a requirement to end isolation come as the Biden administration continues to face a shortage of Covid-19 tests. The Biden administration’s enhanced strategy that includes distributing 500 million free at-home tests didn’t come in time to prevent major disruptions to holiday travel, and it remains unclear when those tests will reach Americans who want them.
“It’s something that absolutely should be considered, and I believe the CDC is going to clarify that,” Fauci said on testing. “I have been in favor of that. But then again, there’s a big picture of trying to do it in a way that is scientifically sound, but that also gets people back to work. The CDC is doing their very best in trying to get the right balance of getting people back but doing it on a solid scientific basis.”
The CDC last week also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to five days if they are vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated and boosted might not need to quarantine at all, the CDC said.
The updated guidelines, which came amid another surge in cases, risked further confusing a public that has already seen reversals and changes in such information.