Anthony Fauci recovering after surgery to have polyp removed from vocal cord
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was resting at home after undergoing surgery Thursday to remove a polyp from his vocal cord, an NIAID spokesperson told USA TODAY.
A leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, Fauci's raspy voice quickly became familiar to most Americans who followed the task force's daily briefings in the early days of the pandemic.
Polyps are growths that can often cause the sort of hoarseness that Fauci has become known for, and which was famously impersonated by actor Brad Pitt on "Saturday Night Live." The growths are like a blister that appears on the vocal folds, which vibrate to produce sound. Because the growth makes it harder for the folds to vibrate, it can cause voice problems, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Fauci was asked about his voice during an April 28 interview with Economic Club of Washington President David Rubenstein.
"People keep commenting it’s a little raspy," Rubenstein said. "Are you talking too much, or what?"
Fauci said the problem began after he got the H1N1 flu in December. He was beginning to recover when the pandemic began, which forced him to conduct almost constant briefings.
"I probably have a polyp there," Fauci said. "The only way you’re going to make it get better is to keep your mouth shut. But that’s not in the cards right now."
Fauci has served as the government's top infectious disease expert since 1984 but was an unknown figure to most Americans before the pandemic began. Since then he has become one of the most trusted sources of information about the virus for most Americans, according to polls, and he has grown into a celebrity whose likeness is featured on everything from T-shirts to bobbleheads.
Contributing: The Associated Press