6th December, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s infectious disease adviser has punctured the global alarm about the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Fauci described the disease caused by the variant, as not severe.
“Thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” he said.
Fauci added that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions and that more study is needed.
Fauci said he also hoped the United States would lift its ban on travellers from southern African countries in a “reasonable period of time.”
The South African government has complained it is being punished – instead of applauded – for discovering the new variant and quickly informing international health officials.
Fauci praised South Africa for its transparency and said the U.S. travel ban was imposed at a time “when we were really in the dark” and needed time to study the variant.
Though the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, the Delta version remains the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases rise nationwide.
At least 16 U.S. states have reported Omicron cases: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.
Many of the cases were among fully vaccinated individuals with mild symptoms, although the booster shot status of some patients was not reported.
Despite several dozen Omicron cases, the Delta variant still accounts for 99.9% of new COVID cases in the United States, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News in an interview.
“We are everyday hearing about more and more probable cases so that number is likely to rise,” she said.
The United States over the last seven days has averaged 119,000 new cases a day and lost nearly 1,300 lives to COVID each day, according to a Reuters tally.
Louisiana currently has one Omicron case from an individual who traveled within the United States, its health department said on Sunday.
The emergence of the new variant has sharply curtailed the number of energy executives and government ministers planning to attend the four-day World Petroleum Congress in Houston this week, which had already been rescheduled from 2020.
But travel restrictions and worries over the new variant saw energy ministers from Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Argentina, Equatorial Guinea, Greece, Turkey and Romania – bowed out, WPC officials said on Sunday.
Governors of two states with reported Omicron cases — Connecticut and Colorado — said they hoped their higher-than-average vaccination rates would blunt the impact.
“We want to see how well the vaccinations hold up,” Colorado’s Jared Polis told ABC.
As U.S. Omicron cases emerge, COVID-19 vaccine makers aim to quickly tweak their shots to target the variant and U.S. regulators have vowed speedy reviews, but that could still take months.