Urges vaccinations, booster shot

Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus might be able to evade antibodies from COVID-19 vaccinations or natural immunity.

The White House chief medical officer discussed the new variant in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“The profile of the mutation strongly suggests that it’s going to have an advantage in transmissibility,” Fauci said. “And that it might evade immune protection that you would get, for example, from a monoclonal antibody or from the convalescent serum after a person’s been infected. And possibly against even some of the vaccine-induced antibodies.”

“It’s not necessarily that that’s going to happen, but it’s a strong indication that we really need to be prepared for that,” he said.

Fauci’s warning echoed that of National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, who told “Fox News Sunday” that the number of variants in the new strain made it possible that “it might not respond as well to protection from the vaccines.” Collins stressed, however, it was too early to definitively say so.

Fauci also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated in light of the emergence of the new variant, highlighting “extraordinary protections” given by the shot against severe infections.

“It may not be as good in protecting against initial infection, but it has a very important impact on diminishing the likelihood that you’re going to get a severe outcome from it,” Fauci said.

“If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated, get boosted. And get the children vaccinated.’”

The WHO last week identified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” and said it contained a large number of mutations. 

Scientists say it remains unclear whether the Omicron variant is more transmissible or has a higher risk of severe infection.

A number of countries, including the US, have introduced travel restrictions on several southern African countries, with the variant having first been identified in that region. 

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