Watch President Biden’s remarks on the omicron variant within the participant under.
By Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan, CNN
Federal well being officers are bracing for the primary circumstances of the brand new Omicron coronavirus variant to be detected within the US and say there are doubtless much more circumstances worldwide than is at present identified.
Officers briefed President Joe Biden for about 45 minutes Sunday on the brand new variant, with a heavy dose of warning about what’s nonetheless unknown. Biden on Monday will present a public replace following a 3rd briefing on the Omicron variant and plans to inform the American individuals straight what the federal government does and does not know, in response to an individual accustomed to the remarks.
Biden’s speech can be extra of a reassurance to not panic as scientists consider the risk than a particular replace on the variant itself. He is anticipated to push Individuals to get vaccinated in opposition to Covid-19 and promote booster photographs for many who are already full vaccinated.
Biden’s group instructed him it’s going to doubtless take one to 2 weeks to know extra in regards to the variant, together with whether or not antibodies deal with it successfully. The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention is at present sequencing coronavirus genomes and dealing carefully with state well being officers, two steps that can be crucial to determining if the variant is already within the US.
Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, stated Sunday that hopefully scientists will be capable of make a willpower quickly on whether or not the Omicron variant is immune to present Covid-19 vaccines. It is also too quickly to inform whether or not Omicron causes extra extreme illness.
Fauci stated he does not suppose there’s any risk that Omicron might fully evade any safety from the vaccine, however that it might diminish the extent of safety.
If there’s a diminution of safety, Fauci and different well being officers stated getting a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot might assist improve safety, since boosters enlarge the capability of the physique to acknowledge every kind of mutations on coronavirus variants.
Vaccine maker Moderna’s chief medical officer instructed CNN that the Omicron variant has a minimum of 50 mutations — together with 30 on the important thing spike protein, which permits the virus to enter human cells, alone. He added that Omicron has thrown a “new wrench” into the battle in opposition to Covid-19, however emphasised that having some vaccination will assist battle even a really altered and extremely harmful variant.
Biden introduced Friday the US would limit journey from South Africa and 7 different nations beginning Monday due to the brand new variant. The Biden administration is now proscribing journey from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The President was appearing on recommendation from Fauci and the CDC.
The Omicron variant has already been detected on 5 continents — North America, Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia — and the journey restrictions are already producing push again, with South Africa’s Ministry of Worldwide Relations and Cooperation saying they’re “akin to punishing” South Africa.
The Omicron variant was the quickest to be labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Well being Group due to its seemingly quick unfold in South Africa and its many troubling mutations.
WHO designates coronavirus variants as both variants of concern — which means they appear harmful sufficient to bear shut scrutiny and continuous updates — or as variants of curiosity, or variants beneath monitoring. Solely 5 at present meet the definition for variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron.
This story has been up to date with extra data.
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CNN’s Ben Tinker and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.