The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering adding testing requirements to its new isolation guidelines for asymptomatic Covid patients, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Last week, the CDC shortened its isolation recommendations for those who have tested positive for Covid but show no symptoms from 10 days to five. Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said that the agency is now debating adding to its guidance,
“The CDC is very well aware that there has been some pushback about that,” Fauci said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Looking at it again, there may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that.”
It’s unclear whether a positive test would require further isolation or whether an asymptomatic patient would be free to move about, so long as they’re masked.
But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said just Wednesday that new guidelines don’t require testing at the end of isolation because PCR tests for Covid can be positive for up to 12 weeks, long after a person is no longer infectious.
“We also don’t know that antigen testing is a good indication of transmissibility at this stage of infection,” she said during a White House briefing. “On the other hand, we know that after five days, people are much less likely to transmit the virus and that masking further reduces the risk.”
The CDC’s decision to cut isolation time was met with pushback and confusion over the last week, as some health experts say it was not based on science and could cause still infectious asymptomatic people to transmit the virus to others.
Fauci also defended the CDC’s decision during an interview on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” on Tuesday, including the decision not to include testing. The new, shorter, isolation guidance was a result of concern that omicron’s high transmission rate could have a “negative impact on our ability to maintain the structure of society,” Fauci said.
He told Hayes that the approval of tests did not include whether or not a test could predict if someone is infectious.
The CDC’s says that the ability for a test to predict infectiousness is “much much more weighted towards the earlier first five days,” Fauci told Hayes.
“Once you get into the latter part of that, the predictive value of that in telling you whether or not you’re infective or not, there’s no real data to say that there’s very little known about that,” Fauci said. “And that was the basis of the CDC decision.”
Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News. Pronouns: she/her.