The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California health authorities confirmed the first case of:linked to the newly discovered variant Omicron in the US on Wednesday, saying a person who had recently returned from South Africa tested positive for the species.
The traveler was fully vaccinated and is experiencing “mild symptoms that improve” and has been in self-quarantine since testing positive, the CDC said in a statement. The person’s close contacts have been contacted by health authorities and tested negative.
The health agency said the emergence of the variant “highlights the importance of vaccination, boosters and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19. Everyone 5 years and older should get vaccinated boosters, recommended for everyone 18 years old.” and older.”
The US joins more than 20 countries and territories that have seen at least one case of the species worldwide, since South African health officialsabout the variant on November 25. The Biden administration recently classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” following the World Health Organization’s designation over the holiday weekend.
“This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States. As you all know, of course we discussed this, we knew it was only a matter of time before the first case of Omicron would be discovered in the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, to reporters during a White House briefing.
The first Omicron case
Officials said the person, who has not been identified due to privacy rules, is an adult under 50 who began noticing symptoms of COVID-19 on Nov. 25, a few days after returning from South Africa on Nov. 22. positive on Nov. 29.
“The person recently traveled to South Africa and developed symptoms on their return, and they did the right thing and got tested and reported their travel history,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director, told reporters on Wednesday.
The person had been fully vaccinated less than six months ago with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the California governor said Wednesday, but was not yet eligible for a booster shot.
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco sequenced the vast majority of positive tests collected in San Francisco and were warned Tuesday afternoon of the possibility of the possible Omicron case.
“We were able to confirm the detection of Omicron within five hours and we had the bulk of the genome within eight hours. So last night at 4 o’clock we had actually collected most of the genome. We were able to convincingly demonstrate that this was indeed an infection of the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, professor of laboratory medicine at the university.
Prepare for more
The discovery comes as the Biden administration is considering tougher restrictions on international travel, part of a new virus containment strategy Mr Biden plans to announce Thursday. The CDC has also stepped up efforts in recent days to investigate new cases of Omicron, including an unplanned expansion of a pilot program.San Francisco International Airport.
On Wednesday, prior to the announcement, the CDC ordered airlines to provide contact information to travelers from eight countries in southern Africa.
Fauci said he was not aware of other possible Omicron cases under investigation by the CDC in the country. He said Americans should continue to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the variant, and urged those who are fully vaccinated to “get a boost now,” saying the extra dose is likely a measure of protection against the variant.
“There’s every reason to believe that such an increase you get with the boost would at the very least be helpful in preventing serious diseases of a variant like Omicron,” he said. “Maybe we don’t need a variant-specific boost. We’re preparing for the possibility that we need a variant-specific boost.”
Exactly how vaccines perform against the variant remains unclear. Although the Omicron variant shares some mutations with other worrisome variants that could allow it to be more transmissible and evade the body’s defenses, scientists have warned that it could take weeks to test the variant’s risk in test tubes. Verify.
On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Dr., a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and a member of Pfizer’s board of directors, expressed confidence in the vaccines.
“People who have looked closely at this series … those individuals are fairly confident that three doses of vaccine will be protective,” Gottlieb said. “That could give a really strong impulse to try and boost more people.”
The rise of the Omicron variety in the US is happening during the busy holiday season. More than 53 million Americans are estimated to have traveled for Thanksgiving, according to AAA, an increase from last year.
The Food and Drug Administration says current COVID-19 testing is likely to remain accurate in detecting infections from the variants, despite a quirk known as “S-Gene Target Failure” that had also been observed in previous strains. Several labs have said they are using that to prioritize positive tests that could be caused by Omicron for further genetic sequencing, to verify which variant caused the infection.
Public health officials have defended the US variant of surveillance efforts, arguing that the system of public health and commercial labs, scaled up by the CDC, could detect emerging variants up to 0.01% prevalence in the country.
The CDC currently estimates that the Delta variant retains virtually all of the circulating virus in the country.