U.S. health officials urge caution, but not panic, over omicron variant

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As countries around the world implemented new restrictions amid the discovery of a dangerous new version of COVID-19, US health officials on Sunday tried to tread a very fine line with their message – that we should avoid the Omicron version too much. It needs to be taken seriously, but that is no reason to panic.

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Preliminary evidence suggests that the omicron version is more permeable than the delta version, but it is not clear whether its symptoms are worse, or if the vaccines are just as effective against it. Experts say it is likely to take two to three weeks of additional data to learn more.

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Here’s what we know about the COVID omicron variant – and what we don’t know yet

“This is a story that is completely based on speculation,” Dr. Jonathan Renner told CNN. “We’ll have data from really hardworking scientists over the next few weeks to help inform how we can put this new version into context.”

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In a series of interviews on a Sunday morning talk show, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the White House, said it was inevitable that the Omicron version would reach the US, and warned that it would May be more permeable than other forms, even deltas. He also emphasized that while we don’t know much about Omicron, it’s better to be safe – and possibly exaggerate – than sorry.

“As I’ve often said, we really need to prepare for the worst,” Fauci told ABC News, “This Week.” “It cannot be that we have to go the way that people are saying. We don’t know much about this virus. Therefore, we want to prepare as much as we can, but it may turn out that this preparation, although important, does not necessarily take us to the next level. ,

Fauci said getting vaccinated and boosters is still the best defense.

“I don’t think there’s any chance that it could completely evade any protection by the vaccine. It might reduce it a little bit, but that’s why you promote it,” he told ABC News. Told. “If ever there was a reason to promote people who were vaccinated, and people who weren’t vaccinated, they are now,” Fauci said in a separate interview. with nbc news,

In an interview on Fox News, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, agreed that vaccines will “most likely” protect against Omicron, although it is still too soon to tell.

“We expect that most likely existing vaccines will be sufficient to provide protection,” Collins told “Fox News Sunday.” “And boosters in particular will give that extra layer of protection because there is something about boosters that causes your immune system to actually expand its capacity against all kinds of different spike proteins, even Haven’t seen it before.”

Speaking to CNN, Collins said that even more basic precautions are important.

“It also means that we need to focus on mitigation strategies for people who are really sick, like wearing a mask when you’re indoors with other people who can’t be vaccinated, and that social distancing.” keep the distance.” Collins told CNN, “I know, America – you’re really tired of hearing those things. But the virus hasn’t stopped from us. And it’s shaping itself up.”

But the bottom line is, “this is the most relatable variant we’ve seen since Delta,” says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. told the Washington Post on Friday, “It’s going to take a really high bar for Delta to pick something up, and we don’t know if it’s going to do that.”


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