Dr Anthony Fauci has undergone surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal cord.
The White House coronavirus task force member had the surgery on Thursday morning and is now recovering at home.
The 79-year-old had general anesthesia during the procedure and sent CNN medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta a text message soon after he woke to say he was doing okay.
‘Dr Anthony Fauci had an operation today to remove a polyp on his vocal cord. He had general anesthesia and texted me after to let me know he was doing ok,’ Gupta tweeted.
‘Doctors have advised him to curtail his talking for a while to allow his vocal cords to recover.’
A polyp is a vocal lesion that can cause hoarseness in a person’s voice and is often caused by what doctors describe as ‘vocal abuse’. Polyps can occur in people who speak for a living or those who are prone to frequently screaming or shouting.
Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been the most vocal of the COVID-19 task force members throughout the pandemic.
At the start of the outbreak, Fauci would regularly appear at White House coronavirus briefings alongside President Donald Trump.
He, along with task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, have repeatedly faced tension with Trump as the pandemic has worn on after publicly contradicting the rosy picture the president has painted of the virus.
Now, instead of appearing frequently at White House briefings, Fauci has been conducting interviews, testifying in front of Congress and speaking mostly at private events organized by universities and medical facilities.
Back in April, Fauci addressed his hoarse voice after he croaked his way through a live TV interview with the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie.
‘I’m physically fine,’ he said when asked about his own health.
‘All I do all day long is brief people. I just need to keep my mouth shut for a little while and it will get better.’
His surgery came in a week where Fauci participated in a series of interviews and online events related to a variety of different matters concerning the ongoing outbreak.
The most recent speaking engagement was on Wednesday where he spoke a COVID-19 vaccine during a video talk organized by George Washington University.
He already has virtual speaking engagements lined up for next week, including one with the University of California, Berkeley on August 27.
During his most recent appearance, Fauci said the government wouldn’t make any future COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for the general public but local jurisdictions could make it mandatory for some groups, including children.
‘You don’t want to mandate and try and force anyone to take a vaccine. We’ve never done that,’ Fauci said during the video talk organized by the university.
‘You can mandate for certain groups of people like health workers, but for the general population you can’t’ he added, citing the example of the National Institutes of Health, where health workers can’t treat patients without a flu shot.
In a virtual conference hosted by health information website Healthline on Tuesday, Fauci touched on the issue of students returning to school.
He said easing in with virtual classrooms would be better in parts of the country that have a coronavirus infection positivity rate of more than 10 percent.
Fauci said that the default position should be to try and reopen schools for the psychological health of children but added that a unilateral approach to reopening schools could not be taken.
‘To make a statement on one side vs the other and take the country as a whole won’t work – we’re so heterogeneous with the infections,’ Fauci said.