WASHINGTON — White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, said Thursday he’s feeling “really good” after his battle with COVID-19 over the past week.
“I had some mild symptoms last Tuesday,” 81-year-old Fauci, who is also director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a question-and-answer session at the White House COVID-19 response team on Thursday’s briefing . “I checked my antigen test on Wednesday and it was positive.”
After a day of “symptomology,” Fauci said he started a 5-day cycle of Paxlovid last Wednesday, “and I’ve now finished Paxlovid and I’m still feeling really good. I think I’m an example given at my age that we’re all talking about today – I’m vaccinated, I’m doubly fortified and I think if it weren’t for that I probably wouldn’t be speaking to you as I looking as good as I look, I guess, right now.” Fauci didn’t respond to a reporter’s question about how he thinks he contracted the virus.
Also at the briefing, Response Team Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, MPH addressed the issue of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines in the pipeline for the upcoming fall and winter. Although the vaccines have not yet been approved by the FDA, the administration thinks it is likely, he said. “Then, negotiators on behalf of the US government will enter into contract negotiations with Moderna and Pfizer using the resources we have been able to pool for vaccines for the fall.”
Although the Biden administration does not have enough funds at this point to buy a vaccine for every adult who wants one, “we will continue to have talks with Republicans and Democrats on the hill” for more funding, he said he.
“I’m a perpetual optimist,” added Jha. “I remain convinced that at this point in the pandemic, Congress will not walk away — when we’ve made so much progress and we’re going into the fall and winter with a new generation of vaccines — I don’t think Congress will walk away and say, ‘We’re not going to make sure that every American who wants a vaccine can get one.’”
“There’s no commercialization plan that would be ready in any way in time for this fall and winter, so we really need to make sure we have the resources that we need for people who want a vaccine this fall and winter,” to be able to get one, he noticed. When asked for more details, Jha replied, “There’s no obvious way to commercialize these things. If you think about it from the perspective of these companies, they are negotiating with countries around the world. They have certain limitations on their production capacity. And there’s no easy way to ensure that the commercial buyers somehow come in and beat other countries to have product available. So we look at all contingencies.”
He was also asked about a prediction he made last month that the US could see a surge of 100 million new COVID infections this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t allocate more COVID funds. “We’re constantly looking at a whole range of data, both internal models developed by government scientists and external models,” Jha said. “And we are planning a number of scenarios. And … one of the scenarios that we have is that we could see a significant wave of infections … We’re trying not to be in the forecasting business, and we’re trying to be in the planning business, and we’ve got to plan for a number of scenarios, of course always hoping that we get a very mild winter, that we have very few infections. But hope is not a strategy.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, updated reporters on the latest COVID statistics. The current daily average of cases is 99,400, down 4% from last week, she said; the 7-day average for hospital admissions is 4,400 per day, up 2% from last week; and average daily deaths are 250 per day, down 16% from the previous week.