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Test tubes and animals are being used to determine if the Omicron variant could slip past the immunity protection of vaccinations or an existing disease.
Anthony Fauci MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the results of tests of live and disabled Omicron virus in combination with serum — the clear part of blood — of previously infected and vaccinated individuals should arrive next week.
These tests will give you an understanding of how they are Americans are protected from this new variant.
Fauci speaking today at a briefing for the White House COVID Response team reports that data indicate the Omicron variant has swiftly become the main reason for new COVID-19 infections in South Africa.
He added, “Strongly suggesting that a dominant capability exists in that variant is superior to other”
The situation in South Africa is not exactly like the United States. South Africa has not vaccinated nearly as many people as the US. Fauci stated that, despite these differences the South African picture is a clear indication of the spread of Omicron and the possibility for cases to develop in the United States.
These new cases might not be as severe as those we have observed with Alpha and Delta. Early evidence of severity is encouraging.
He added, “It’s too soon to be able to determine the exact severity of the disease, however there are indications that we are seeing, and it seems with the cases that we are encountering, we aren’t getting a very serious picture of the disease.”
Fauci said that the rate of hospitalization for Omicron cases seems to be lower than under previous variants and patients who do end up in the hospital appear to be less likely to require oxygen.
However, Fauci warned that the information could be biased since the first cases reported in South Africa have been reported in younger people who are more likely to have less serious cases anyway due to their age.
“Hopefully that within the next few weeks, we’ll get a much clearer picture,” he said.
Rochelle Walensky MD director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that teams working to monitor Omicron’s spread after the large Anime 2021 Conference in New York City had been able contact around 35,000 of the 53,000 people who were expected to be there.
The second confirmed Omicron case in the US was in a Minnesota man who attended the conference.
She stated that the data from the investigation will likely provide some of the first glimpses of the transmission possibilities for this variant.
In the meantime, Omicron isn’t waiting. So far it has made an appearance in 17 states and more than 50 countries around the world.
White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Dec. 7, 2021
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