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Top US health leaders will testify before the Senate on Tuesday about the federal response to the variable Omicron Covid, as new infections and hospitalizations reach epidemic levels.
The Senate Health Committee will hear testimony from White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky, and Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.
Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, is also testifying.
The hearing comes as the CDC faces criticism for its public messaging about the pandemic, particularly its quarantine guidelines. The CDC has reduced the isolation period to five days for people with Covid, but has not recommended that people get tested before leaving isolation.
The Biden administration has also been criticized for a nationwide lack of testing during the busy holiday travel season as new infections surge across the country.
Fauci will likely face questions about how vaccines are resistant to the highly mutated omicron variant. Omicron is able to evade some of the protection offered by vaccines. The variant is more contagious than previous strains and appears less severe, although researchers are still collecting data.
The FDA recently reduced the waiting period for Pfizer and Moderna booster doses to five months, in an effort to get more third shots in people’s arms to build protection in communities across the United States as omicron spreads.
The United States reports an average of more than 750,000 new infections per day, according to CNBC’s analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. This represents an increase of 53% compared to the previous week and is a record for the epidemic.
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