The antigen tests, commonly referred to as rapid or at-home tests, “remain a very, very effective tool,” Jha said on ABC News’s “This Week.” He noted that “in the first day of symptoms” with omicron, “it does look like the test is a little less sensitive,” but beyond that, “these antigen tests continue to work really effectively.”
Jha’s comments echo those from Bruce J. Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health. Tromberg has said people should still use the tests regularly. “Even with reduced performance, it will still pick up infections, and it will help individuals [isolate and] get treatment sooner,” Tromberg previously told The Post.
President Biden has promised to distribute 500 million rapid tests to the American public, and the kits should start shipping to households in the coming days.
The CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said Monday that he hopes the coronavirus will be “controlled” by a combination of annual vaccinations and pills to treat illness, underscoring that the world has new tools to prevent serious sickness even as it faces a case surge.
Albert Bourla, whose company manufactures a widely used coronavirus vaccine, said on CNBC that a “perfectly normal life” could be achieved with annual re-vaccination similar to annual flu shots and with pills for those who contract the virus.
Bourla was apparently referencing antiviral pills, which have been shown to significantly reduce the chances of hospitalization if taken early on after infection. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s pill late last year, but doctors say supply remains far too limited.
Doctors bemoan limited supply of game-changing antiviral pills amid winter surge
Vaccination against the coronavirus also remains out of reach for much of the developing world, despite groups such as the World Health Organization advocating for more resources to create “vaccine equity.”
Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, also told CNBC on Monday that he envisions further booster shots to maintain immunity.
Federal officials recommended a single booster shot for all U.S. adults in November amid concerns about the omicron variant, after initially advising them for more vulnerable populations such as the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that some immunocompromised people get an extra dose as part of the “primary” vaccination.
Bancel said his company is “working very actively on an omicron-specific vaccine as a booster” and “discussing with public health leaders around the world to decide what we think is the best strategy for a potential booster for fall of 2022.”
“We believe it will contain omicron mRNAs,” he said, referencing the genetic technology that instructs the body to make proteins that mimic the virus and stimulate an immune response. “But do we need to have any other components? That has to be discussed, because we need to be careful to stay ahead of the virus.”
Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the latest member of Congress to contract a breakthrough case of the virus.
Cline, who said he got the test on Saturday, noted that he had been vaccinated. “After consulting with my physician, I am taking all necessary precautions to isolate at home here in Virginia. Thanks to everyone for their support and assistance,” he said.
As the omicron variant of the coronavirus tears through the country, it has not spared Capitol Hill. Just this weekend, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and Young Kim (R-Calif.) announced that they had tested positive. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) disclosed Friday that he had tested positive, and many others have disclosed positive test results since December.
A spokesman for Cline, who represents much of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, did not immediately respond to questions about whether the congressman was exhibiting symptoms or how recently he had been at the U.S. Capitol.