Dr. Fauci Just Revealed His Assessment on Trump's COVID Test Results
"We were just given the data, and we made a determination from the data," he said.
President Donald Trump's doctor announced Monday that the president had tested negative for the coronavirus. Sean Conley, DO, wrote in a memo that Trump had "tested NEGATIVE, on consecutive days, using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card." The news came 10 days after Trump's original announcement that he had tested positive for COVID-19. However, there was some question from medical experts, who were concerned that despite negative COVID test results, Trump could still be contagious due to the kind of test that was used. But now, after a few days, Anthony Fauci, MD, has finally weighed in.
In an interview Wednesday, Fauci said, according to The New York Times, "We feel confident that we can say with a high degree of confidence that he is not transmissible." Read on to find out what else he said, and for insight into where the virus is surging, These States Are Having the Biggest COVID Outbreaks Right Now.
There were questions about Trump's infectiousness based on the test used.
An antigen test, made by Abbott Laboratories in Trump's case, can detect a SARS-CoV-2 infection in under 15 minutes. Antigen tests are most likely to capture an infection when it's at its peak. They are a good broad-brush test, useful for screening people who are asymptomatic and tell you whether or not the virus is present. For this reason, 6.5 million of them have been sent out nationwide to help get schools and the economy reopened.
Antigen tests work by looking for proteins on the surface of the virus and are commonly used because they're much faster and cheaper than Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. PCR tests instead look for the actual genetic material of the virus. They can actually evaluate the level of virus present to give doctors a more detailed picture of what stage of an illness the patient is at. And for more testing tips, This Is the Type of COVID-19 Test You Should Be Asking For.
Abbott Laboratories says their tests shouldn't be used for patients a week into their illness.
Abbott themselves caution that the BinaxNow test returns false-negative results in 2.9 percent of cases and that in patients who are a week beyond the start of symptoms, a PCR test should be used for confirmation.
"Negative results from patients with symptom onset beyond seven days, should be treated as presumptive and confirmation with a molecular assay, if necessary, for patient management, may be performed," they explain. "Negative results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions." And for more on inaccurate COVID test results, This Is Why You May Test Positive for COVID Even If You Don't Have It.
Trump's PCR tests results had been unclear.
Conley's memo explained that the Abbott test was not the only one undertaken by the president and that he had also taken the more detailed PCR test. However, the memo did not have information about the results of that test, and while it mentioned that "PCR cycle threshold measurements" had been taken, it did not specify what those measurements were.
"Repeatedly negative antigen tests, taken in context with additional clinical and laboratory data, including viral load, subgenomic RNA, and PCR cycle threshold measurements, as well as ongoing assessment of viral culture data, all indicate a lack of detectable viral replication," Conley said in his memo. "This comprehensive data, in concert with the CDC's guidelines for removal of transmission-based precautions, have informed our medical team's assessment that the president is not infectious to others." And if you're concerned you could have the virus, know that If You Can't Smell These 2 Things, You May Have COVID.
But Fauci cleared them up.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Clifford Lane, MD, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health, assessed the president's results from his PCR test and from the Abbott's BinaxNOW rapid tests. "We were just given the data, and we made a determination from the data," Fauci said on Wednesday.
The nation's leading infectious disease expert said the amount of virus in Trump's body has been steadily decreasing. The latest result shows he's "just about where you want it to be," Fauci said. And for further COVID updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.