The CDC is anticipated to chop Covid’s quarantine interval, which nearly everybody appears to agree on
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering shortening the recommended two-week quarantine period for people who have come into contact with people – a change welcomed by some medical experts who say the loose guidelines for people would be easier to obey.
Current CDC guidelines recommend that anyone exposed to the coronavirus be quarantined at home for 14 days, even if they test negative for the virus. Scientists say this helps prevent the disease from spreading further before they show symptoms or from those who don’t develop symptoms.
However, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in late October that these guidelines were created when diagnostic tests were not available as quickly as they are today. At the time, Redfield said the agency was trying to determine whether a quarantine period with a negative Covid-19 test could be cut to just seven days.
“It’s data-driven, it’s currently being evaluated. Obviously, we don’t want people to be quarantined unnecessarily for 14 days,” Redfield said during a press conference on October 21 at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC incident manager for Covid-19 Response, said the agency is now finalizing these new guidelines to recommend a seven to 10 day quarantine period with a negative Covid-19 test, according to the Wall Street Journal. Agency officials are still determining the exact length of the quarantine and what type of test would be required to end it, the Journal reported Tuesday.
“CDC is constantly reviewing its guidelines and recommendations in the light of new findings about the virus that causes COVID-19 and will announce such changes as necessary,” CDC spokesman Belsie González told CNBC on Wednesday.
Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant health secretary who leads the federal government’s testing efforts under the White House’s coronavirus task force, said during a press conference Tuesday that there is “an excess of evidence that a shorter quarantine can be complemented by a test possibly reduce this quarantine period from 14 days to a shorter period.
“We are currently actively working on this type of guidance and reviewing the evidence, but we want to be absolutely sure,” Giroir told reporters. “These types of recommendations are not straightforward. They are processed by a large number of experts.”
“Should have done that earlier”
The shorter quarantine period could make it easier for people to follow the CDC’s recommendations, as most people would likely cut the two-week period on their own, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Commissioner, on Wednesday.
For people who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, which means they never develop symptoms, the chances are they’ll stop being as contagious after seven to ten days, Gottlieb said. The number of people who contract the infection two weeks after exposure is also “very low,” he said.
“I mean, to be honest, we probably should have done that earlier,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. “If you ask people to quarantine for two weeks and self-isolate for two weeks because of exposure, you are only getting people to break the rules. We’re better off doing something practical.”
Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, who served under President Barack Obama, told NBC News that the US “needs to optimize the quarantine” and that the greatest risk is between four and seven days and then falling off.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine at Emory University, told CNBC the move “made sense” and recommended testing people immediately after exposure to Covid-19, quarantining them for at least seven days and then test again to make sure you are negative.
“We’ve spoken to CDC and others about how we can incorporate testing into a quarantine escape,” he told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell.
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News’ Good Morning America on Wednesday that a two-week quarantine would make people reluctant to test for Covid-19 as a positive result could leave them unemployed.
“They don’t want to say, ‘Well, I’m tested, and now I have to stay away from work, I can lose money, I won’t get subsidized and I could even lose my job,” Fauci said. “So it could be that the balance – the better part of that equation – is to encourage people more to get tested so they don’t get out of what they need to be, their job, their occupation, their source of income . That’s the real reason for it. “
– CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.