Biden pushes the picks, not more restrictions like variable spreads
Washington — President Joe Biden will urge Americans to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose as he seeks to allay concerns Monday about the new COVID-19 variant, but he won’t immediately push for more restrictions to stop its spread, his top medical advisor said.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and senior advisor on COVID-19 to Biden, said Monday that no cases of the variant have yet been identified in the United States, but it was “inevitable” that it would eventually make its way into the country. .
Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Fauci said scientists hope to learn how well current COVID-19 vaccines protect against t variants, and how dangerous they are compared to previous strains.
“We don’t really know,” Fauci said, describing the speculation as “premature.”
Biden is scheduled to speak later Monday to stress the importance of vaccination to protect against all types of COVID-19 and the urgency to vaccinate the nearly 80 million Americans ages 5 and older who have not received a shot. But he was not expected to announce any new virus-related restrictions, other than last week’s move to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region from Monday.
“I don’t think so at all” if more restrictions are imminent, Fauci said.
Officials said the move to limit most travel from countries where omicron was first identified was to buy time for the United States to learn more about the alternative. But Fauci said it would eventually make it to the United States and could, like the delta variant before it, become the dominant strain, saying the omicron “has the advantage of transmissibility” over other variants.
Pharma companies are already working on modifying their existing COVID-19 vaccines to better attack the omicron variant, but Fauci said Americans should make it a priority to get their first dose or a booster dose now, rather than waiting for the newly designed shot.
“I would highly suggest you get a boost now,” he said.
He added that based on what scientists learn about the omicron variant in the coming weeks, “we may not need” targeted boosters to contain that strain of the virus.
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