While some countries are still battling the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, a new, potentially more contagious and more dangerous variant was discovered few days ago in South Africa called Omicron. Although scientists and health experts know little to none about the new Covid-19 variant, a decent number of countries acted in panic and decided to close their borders for travelers and many more are expected to follow the same path.
The panic caused by the new variant prompted president Joe Biden to urgently meet with the Covid-19 response team, including Dr. Fauci, to discuss the next steps and measures the country should take in order to timely prevent possible spread of the Omicron variant across the country.
Since not much is known about the new variant, the Sunday’s meeting ended without specific measures to be enforced right now. According to Fauci, it will take about two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant, he believes ‘existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection’.
And while the world is expecting new details about the recently discovered variant, Fauci used the Sunday’s occasion to once again encourage the vaccine hesitant to get their shot despite the fact that no one knows if the vaccines will protect those fully vaccinated from the new variant. Additionally, Fauci reiterated that boosters for fully vaccinated individuals provide the strongest available protection from Covid.
As soon as South Africa health officials announced the discovery of the new variant, many countries enforced travel bans and closed their borders for foreigners. The new Omicron variant has been detected in tens of countries including U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia and Hong Kong. So far, not a single Omicron case was reported in the United States, but some health experts believe that it could already be here.
World Health Organization warned the countries already closing their borders that the behavior is nothing but a plain panic since it will take some time until the new variant is thoroughly studied. The fact that this is new variant doesn’t mean it’s dangerous and deadly, WHO added.
What comes as a real concern is the fact that the number of cases rapidly increased in the areas in South Africa where the new variant was discovered, making the health experts to believe that Omicron might spread faster compared to the Delta variant and Omicron might by far reduce the protection of the vaccines.
Some pandemic measures are expected to be enforced in the upcoming period, but not even Fauci went that far to specify what measures will be taken for sure. However, Fauci said that Americans need to be prepared to do “anything and everything” to fight the omicron Covid variant clearly opening the path to new measures including the least popular, lockdown.
“We all know when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos. “The question is, will we be prepared for it?” Still, it’s “too early to say” whether lockdowns or new mandates will be appropriate, Fauci added.
Meanwhile, health officials push for vaccination since the vaccines are the best weapon the humanity currently has against the virus. If the vaccines don’t give the expected protection against the new variant, all three of the available Covid-19 vaccines in the country can be modified, but it will take months before they are fully modified and approved by the authorities.