Washington — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden and a leading official in the fight against the, has tested positive for COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health announced.
The NIH said in a statement that Fauci, 81, is fully vaccinated and has been boosted twice. He is experiencing mild symptoms, and has not recently been in close contact with President Biden or other top government officials, the agency said.
Fauci, the director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) since 1984, received his positive result on a rapid antigen test, and will return to work at the NIH when he tests negative, the agency said.
The NIH confirmed Fauci is taking the antiviral drug, which has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.
Fauci has been a key, and at times polarizing, figure in the nation’s efforts to combat the pandemic since its start in early 2020, advising both former President Donald Trump and President Biden on the federal response. He managed to avoid contracting COVID-19 until now — more than two years after the World Health Organizationa global pandemic.
Fauci became a household name throughout the pandemic, appearing frequently alongside Trump during in-person briefings at the White House in the early days of the public health emergency and in online briefings held by Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team after he assumed the presidency.
During appearances on Capitol Hill, Fauciwith Republican senators over mitigation efforts including mask-wearing and testing requirements.
His increased public profile led to threats and harassment against him and his family, he told a Senate panel in January. In late 2020, a California man was arrested after police in Iowa allegedly found weapons and an apparent hit list, naming Fauci, in his car. A West Virginia man alsolast month to sending threatening emails to Fauci and former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.
Now Fauci joins a long line of federal officials who, even though they are vaccinated and boosted, tested positive for COVID-19, including, and of Mr. Biden’s Cabinet.
In January, he predicted the highly contagious Omicron variant will “ultimately find just about everybody,” but noted Americans who are vaccinated and boosted will do “reasonably well” given that the shots protect against hospitalization and death.
Fauci was scheduled to appear with other top federal health officials before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday to provide an update on the federal response to COVID-19.