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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor and chief medical advisor to the president, said Sunday that it is inevitable that the omicron variant of the coronavirus will be detected in the United States
While no cases of the variant have been identified in the United States so far, cases have been identified in Botswana, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia, and Hong Kong.
“As we all know, when you have a virus that has already invaded multiple countries, it will inevitably be here,” Fauci said on ABCs In this week. “The question is: will we be prepared for this?”
The Omicron variant was marked as a “worrying variant” by the World Health Organization on Friday, making it the first variant to be marked as such since the delta variant appeared earlier this year.
Fauci emphasized that many of the preparations for Omicron are similar to those for the Delta variant.
“If and when and when it comes here, hopefully we’ll be ready for it by improving our skills through vaccines and masking – all the things we are and should be doing,” said Fauci.
Part of the concern about the Omicron variant has to do with the variant’s mutations – it has way more than any previous variant. Fauci said more data is needed to know for sure, but that “the mutation would strongly suggest that it would be more transmissible and that it might even evade antibodies induced by a vaccine.”
But dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, says there is no need to panic just yet.
Collins appeared on CNNs State of the Union said he believed that people who have already been vaccinated “will likely be fine,” but that it will likely take scientists two or three weeks to determine.
Collins also stressed the need for people to get vaccinated and for those who are fully vaccinated to receive their booster vaccinations.
“The booster – it basically increases your immune system’s ability to recognize all kinds of different spike proteins that it has never seen before,” said Collins.
While both Fauci and Collins say it will take time to determine the severity of the Omicron variant, the US is introducing new travel restrictions. The restrictions are due to take effect on Monday.