A new variant of the coronavirus – the omicron – will sooner or later be in the United States, President Joe Biden said on Monday. The American leader called on citizens to wear masks in public and ensured that the US was prepared to deal with the development of the new variant. Omicron “is cause for concern, but not panic,” he added.
In a speech at the White House on Monday, Joe Biden said the emergence of the new variant was “cause for concern, but not panic” and said vaccination would remain the main focus of the anti-virus strategy. While he admitted that the new variant would reach the US is almost certain, he stressed that the aim of the travel restrictions introduced on Monday from eight African countries was to give Americans more time to get vaccinated or take an additional dose.
– Doctor [Anthony] Fauci and our medical team believe vaccines will continue to offer some degree of protection against severe disease, Biden said. He added that more about the degree of effectiveness of the omicron vaccines will be known within a few weeks.
– For now, we do not think that additional funds are necessary, but if they are, we are ready for it. My team is already working with representatives from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johsnon to prepare plans for updated vaccines or booster doses, Biden said. He assured that, if necessary, he would order government agencies to approve possible new vaccines as soon as possible, but – as he pointed out – without taking “cuts” when it comes to safety.
Biden announced that although he does not plan to implement additional restrictions at the moment and his goal is to avoid lockdowns, he called on everyone to wear masks in closed rooms and public places.
The president also announced further exports of vaccines abroad and called on other countries to follow the example of America. As he pointed out, this is also a way to protect Americans, because so far new dangerous variants of the coronavirus have been detected outside the US.
Coronavirus in the United States
On NBC, the president’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said U.S. health officials would talk to their counterparts in South Africa where it was discovered to get the latest information on the new coronavirus variant.
For fear of the spread of the omicron on Monday, the US is banning almost all foreigners who have stayed in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Malawi and Namibia in the last 14 days. In the last 14 days, the US recorded more than 1.1 million new cases of coronavirus infection, an increase of 9 percent compared to the previous two weeks. To date, nearly 782,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US.
As reported by ABC, Pfizer said that if a vaccine-resistant variant of the coronavirus emerges, the company will be able to produce an effective preparation in about 100 days. Moderna announced such a possibility at the beginning of 2022. New vaccines would require approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Oliver Contreras