The U.S. is considering recommending that individuals exposed to Covid end isolation if they’ve tested negative for the virus after five days, U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
The move could come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faced harsh feedback for its decision last week to reduce Covid-19 isolation periods for asymptomatic people to five days from 10, even if the individual continues to test positive.
“There has been some concern about why we don’t ask people at that five-day period to get tested,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That is something that is now under consideration.”
“The CDC is very well aware that there has been some pushback about that. Looking at it again, there may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that. And I think we’re going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC,” he added.
“I myself think that’s a reasonable thing to do,” Fauci later said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The updated guidelines come amid a surge in new Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. Some have criticized the move as putting business interests over science, since a surge in cases could exacerbate a nationwide labor shortage.
So far, U.S. health officials have been on the defense about the change.
“In the second half of the 10-day period, which would normally be a 10-day isolation period, the likelihood of transmissibility is considerably lower in that second half. For that reason, the CDC made the judgment that it would be relatively low risk to get people out,” Fauci said on CNN.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that the agency avoided recommending testing out of isolation because the science was unclear on whether rapid antigen tests are a good indication of transmissibility. Meantime, PCR tests can show the illness for months.