Omicron Covid-19 variant could already be in US, Fauci . says – Community News

Omicron Covid-19 variant could already be in US, Fauci . says

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it is possible that omicron, a new strain of Covid-19 first discovered in South Africa, may already be in the United States.

While there are no confirmed cases of the new variant in the United States, Fauci said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if omicron made its way to the US already.

“We haven’t discovered it yet, but if you have a virus that shows this level of transmissibility and you already have travel-related cases that have been noticed in Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this it will eventually almost always transition,” Fauci told Weekend TODAY on Saturday.

The new variant is worrisome because it “has a large number of mutations” that may make this virus more contagious than other variants and more transmissible, Fauci said.

“We don’t know yet, but we assume this is the case,” he said, adding that the high number of mutations also suggests the new variant “could evade the protection” of coronavirus treatments such as monoclonal antibodies and restorative plasma. and the Covid-19 vaccines.

“These are all maybes, but the suggestion is enough,” Fauci said. “This is something that we have to pay very close attention to and be prepared for something serious. It may not turn out that way, but you really want to be ahead of it.

Two cases of the variant have been identified in the UK, Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Saturday. He added that those involved were linked and would travel to southern Africa, where Omicron was first discovered earlier this week.

As public health experts try to find concrete answers to questions about whether the omicron variant causes more serious illness and whether it can circumvent protections from vaccines and treatments, President Joe Biden announced new travel restrictions on Friday.

Restrictions on travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will come into effect on Monday.

Travel restrictions are only helpful to give the US more time to better assess the situation and respond accordingly, it won’t stop the spread of the new variant, Fauci said.

Fauci, who also serves as Biden’s chief medical adviser, emphasized how it is “absolutely essential that unvaccinated people be vaccinated and vaccinated people receive boosters” and wear masks during indoor conventions.

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