Top federal health officials on Tuesday defended the Biden administration’s efforts to protect Americans against the highly contagious Omicron variant as they faced withering accusations from lawmakers about scarce coronavirus tests and confusing guidance on how people who tested positive for the virus could return to normal life.
Joined by the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, called the wave of Omicron cases a “massive, unprecedented surge.”
“This is an extraordinary virus, the likes of which we have not seen even close to in well over 100 years. It is a very wily virus,” one that has “fooled everybody all the time, from the time it first came in, to Delta, to now Omicron,” he said.
“We’re doing the best we possibly can,” he added.
Lawmakers at the hearing said the government failed to grasp the nation’s need for virus tests, would only be able to fulfill its promise to supply a half billion of them after the current surge had peaked, and had mangled critical public health messaging.