A day after the first cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus were detected in North America, President Joe Biden called the news a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”
NEW: Biden says the fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns," but "widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."
— Axios (@axios) November 29, 2021
Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how “we’re going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.”
Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated and get booster shots if they are eligible.
Biden said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes the current vaccines “provide at least some protection against the new variant and the boosters strengthen that protection significantly.”
The Omicron variant is a cause for concern — but not panic.
We will fight this variant with science and speed — not chaos and confusion.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 29, 2021
Our administration is working with health officials around the world to learn all we can about the Omicron variant. Right now, it is critical that everyone get the vaccine and their booster shot if they have not done so already. https://t.co/DrXPdzqRjL
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) November 29, 2021
In his remarks, the president said his administration is gathering as much information about omicron as quickly as possible and promised to share info with the American people as it’s confirmed.
Biden also announced that his administration is already working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop omicron-specific vaccines “if needed.”
Omicron was first detected in South Africa and appears to be more transmissible than other coronavirus variants, according to South African scientists and health officials.
Following the announcement by South African officials about the variant, the Biden administration announced new travel restrictions for South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.