As questions arise about the new omicron coronavirus variant, President Biden tells Americans to stay calm and be vaccinated and boosted to receive the best protection.
The new COVID-19 variant was first identified last week in South Africa, and countries including the US have restricted travel from South African countries to get ahead of the highly transferable variant.
Biden admitted that although travel restrictions may slow down the speed of the omicron, the variant will inevitably be here.
“Sooner or later, we’ll see cases of this new variant here in the United States,” Biden of the White House said Monday. “We will have to face this new threat, just as we have faced those who have come before it.”
“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” the president said, adding later, “We will fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
The best protection against this new variant and any of the other variants is to be fully vaccinated and get a booster shot, Biden emphasized.
“Don’t wait: Get your booster if it’s time for you to do it,” he said.
The bite also encouraged people to wear a mask while indoors in a public setting.
It will be a few weeks before the researchers know how strongly the existing vaccines protect against the new variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s senior medical adviser, has said he believes the vaccines will continue to provide a degree of protection against serious illness.
If updated vaccines or boosters are needed for the new variant, Biden said they will “accelerate their development and implementation.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which noted the emergence of omicron, on Monday strengthened its recommendation on booster doses for people who are 18-plus. Anyone over the age of 18 should get a booster shot either 6 months after their first Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their first J&J vaccine, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced.
“The recent advent of the omicron variant further underscores the importance of vaccination, boosters and preventive measures to protect against COVID-19,” she said. “Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the omicron variant, and researchers in the United States and around the world are immediately investigating vaccine efficacy related to this variant.”