Biden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant
President Biden will provide an update on his administration’s response to the new COVID-19 omicron variant on Monday, according to the White House, after Dr. Anthony Fauci said it will take roughly two weeks to gather more information on the new strain.
Biden met with Fauci and members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team on Sunday, two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting to discuss the new COVID-19 strain, which it labeled a variant of concern.
In a readout on Sunday, the White House said Biden will “provide an update about the new variant and the U.S. response on Monday.”
Since being discovered in South Africa, the omicron variant has since spread to neighboring African countries and a number of other nations, including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
The U.S. on Monday will implement travel restrictions for travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
The White House on Sunday said Fauci informed the president that it will take “approximately two more weeks” to learn definitive information about the omicron variant, including its transmissibility, severity and “other characteristics of the variant.”
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins sounded a similar note during an interview on Sunday, noting that it would likely take two or three weeks to determine how existing COVID-19 vaccines hold up against the new variant.
Fauci reiterated his recommendation that all eligible individuals should get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the White House readout, adding that he believes the shots are “likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of COVID.”
He also underscored the importance of all eligible individuals getting their booster shots “as soon as possible,” noting that they “provide the strongest available protection from COVID.”
While there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding the omicron variant, it is clear that the strain has a high number of mutations.
Fauci on Sunday, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” said the omicron variant will “inevitably” be detected in the U.S., noting that it has already reached a number of nations.
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