After playing what I considered viral dodgeball for 26 months, I was tested positive for COVID19. This is not noteworthy except for my employer and family. It's just one example of the larger pandemic in America right now.
Even though they have been vaccinated or boosted, people like me are still getting infected. In my case, I received two vaccines plus two boosters -- all from Pfizer. My latest booster was given May 9.
13 days later, I was positive.
I was thrown into isolation by my positive test. A whole week of work assignments, and there were many, disappeared. My podcast, "The Takeout," has produced an original show every week since January 2017. We cancelled the planned in-person show and instead booked Dr. Anthony Fauci as President Biden's chief physician adviser.
Dr. Fauci said to me Thursday that "you're the personification" of the rising incidence rates, which have reached more than 100,000 per week for the first time since February. This is a highly transmissible disease. It is highly probable that you would have a more severe outcome if you weren't vaccinated. You and I think it's very unlikely Major that we would be talking to each other now.
Fauci could visit me via Zoom. I was able to sound and look professional enough for an interview. My symptoms included fatigue, headaches, low-level fever, night sweats, and nausea. My first and most obvious symptom was fatigue. It hit me Saturday afternoon while I was trying to play golf. It was a strange feeling. Fauci explained to me that it's a common symptom.
My symptoms are manageable. I've had worse. I have had double pneumonia and pneumonia. Both were worse.
Yet, Covid felt real even after four doses of vaccine. Fauci was right. I thought about what could have happened if I hadn't been vaxxed or boosted.
Fauci asked me whether I'd sought antiviral treatment. My primary-care physician prescribed Paxlovid. I felt significantly better after starting a five-day Paxlovid regimen Tuesday evening.
Fauci said this was the best course of action. He also told me that Paxlovid should be taken as soon as possible following testing positive. This is something Fauci and the government are trying to encourage the public and doctors treating SARS-Co-V-2 victims to do.
Fauci described Paxlovid to be "an antiviral drug with a very high capability to prevent people from needing hospitalizations or going on to develop severe diseases."
It happened that the federal government was increasing availability of Paxlovid on the same day.
"We're increasing the number of sites with packs of it from 20,000 to 4000. Today, we announced that the first federally-supported test and treatment sites have opened in Rhode Island. Soon, Minnesota, New York, and other locations will follow suit.
I took three Paxlovid tablets twice daily. Other than a slight metallic taste, there were no side effects.
Fauci stated that it blocks the replication of virus. "Blocking the replication of the virus can essentially affect the type of effects you feel -- the chills and fatigue, headache, feeling like you are very much under the weather."
The BA 220.127.116.11 variant SARS-Co-V-2 is responsible for the majority of U.S. COVID cases (at least 58%) Fauci stated that this mutation is more of an upper respiratory virus, echoing my doctor. Vaccines and boosters provide the most protection against lower-respiratory illnesses.
Fauci stated that protection against systemic diseases, especially lung disease, has been the one thing that has held up. "However the upper airway is now a target."
Fauci asked me if the country was currently experiencing its fifth COVID-wave.
Fauci stated that "we are definitely having a lot more cases," despite the fact that the U.S. has fallen from its terrifying peak of 900,000.00 cases per day. There have been tens of thousands hospitalizations and over 3,000 deaths. "The daily average now exceeds 100,000 per day. Is that considered a wave? I'm not sure. It's semantics. We should be saying that we are experiencing an increase in infection. This is the sad news.
Fauci pointed out promising signs, however.
"The encouraging news is that parts of the country which experienced increases in the past are beginning to plateau and fall. This is New York City in particular. This is the Chicago area. This is the Washington, D.C. area.
Based on available data, a person who is not vaccinated is 68 times more likely than someone who has been vaccinated to contract COVID.
Fauci stated that hospitalizations for individuals who have not been vaccinated are significantly different from those for people who have been boosted and are hospitalized.
"You are more likely to get into trouble if you're not vaccinated than if your are vaccinated."
Fauci was reminded that I had been boosted (my second) May 9, and I still test positive in two weeks.
Fauci stated that vaccines are not designed to give you sterilized immunity, or prevent even the slightest infection. That's what the point is. It is important to keep you from falling ill. You will not need to be admitted to the hospital. Preventing your death. Although I can't predict what might have happened, it is possible that, given your symptoms and the fact that you weren't vaccinated, you could have been in serious trouble.
Fauci mentioned the political climate when I asked him if it was wise for insurers increase premiums for people who have not received Covid vaccinations. This is similar to what happens with premiums for smokers.
Fauci stated, "I prefer not," because, through no fault of their own, those who incorrectly or inappropriately claim I'm encroaching on one's freedom will jump over that, and that will just give the them legs on something distracting us from what we really want, which was to get people vaccinated."
I asked Fauci in that light if he would remain in his White House position if Republicans gain control of Congress in mid-term elections. Many Republicans suggested that they would investigate Fauci’s actions during the pandemic.
Fauci stated, "I don’t know." "I haven’t given that thought a thought. Right now, my focus is on getting us out of this current situation. This is what I worry about at night. I don't worry about six months from now what I will be doing.
I asked him if he was afraid of the Republicans asking for documents or being investigated by them.
Fauci stated, "Absolutely no at all." There is nothing to be afraid of. There is nothing to fear. "I'm an open-minded person."
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson and Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook, Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.comTwitter: @TakeoutPodcastInstagram: @TakeoutPodcastFacebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast