Fauci says omicron variant will 'inevitably' hit US

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciLet's stop saying 'breakthrough cases' — it isn't helping The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Trump-DeSantis tensions ratchet up MORE said on Sunday that the omicron COVID-19 variant will “inevitably” hit the United States, noting that it has already been detected in several other countries.

During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” anchor George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosAlec Baldwin turns over cell phone in 'Rust' probe How a nice-guy South Dakota senator fell into a Trump storm GOP senator says he would 'take a hard look' at another Trump run MORE asked Fauci if the newly detected variant had been detected by officials in the U.S.

“No, we have not, George, and we have a pretty good surveillance system. But, as we all know, when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here,” Fauci, who serves as President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE’s chief medical adviser, answered.

Fauci also argued during the interview that travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration and other countries could buy nations time to better respond to omicron, which the World Health Organization called a "variant of concern" last week.

"Travel bans, when you have a highly transmissible virus, never completely would ... prevent it from coming into the country. No way that's going to happen,” Fauci said.

“But what you can do is you can delay it enough to get us better prepared. And that's the thing that people need to understand. If you're going to do the travel ban the way we've done now and that we're implementing right now, utilize the time that you're buying to fill in the gaps,” he added.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that it will take weeks for scientists to understand how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at protecting against the new variant.

"So if you've raised antibodies against [COVID-19] from previously being infected or from being vaccinated, the question is, will those antibodies still stick to this version of the spike protein, or will they evade that protection? We need to find that out, to be honest, though that's gonna take two, three weeks in both laboratory and field studies to figure out the answer. And that's what all of us as scientists want to know," Collins said.

Updated at 10:42 a.m.