US President Biden said that new Covid variant Omicron should not be a cause for panic in the world. He, however, urged Americans and others to get COVID jabs amid global alarm over the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
Biden said Omicron should be taken as a “cause for concern, but not a cause for panic at all”.
Speaking at the White House on Monday, the US President Joe Biden said top United States health officials are consulting with leading vaccine makers and preparing for possible updates to account for Omicron’s mutations.
But he stressed that the US was in a good position to control Omicron’s potential spread without having to resort to lockdowns or more travel bans for now – beyond restrictions already imposed on eight southern African countries.
“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he said. “If you are vaccinated, but still worried about the new variant, get your booster. If you aren’t vaccinated, get that shot. Go get that first shot.”
Biden added that his chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, expects current vaccines to work against the new variant, with boosters enhancing protection. “We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion,” he said.
The US earlier this month expanded its recommendation for booster jabs to all adults, but an estimated 47 million US adults have not yet been vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A ban on travel into the US from South Africa and seven other African nations came into effect on Monday, as countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions over the past several days amid concerns over Omicron.
“The point of the travel restriction is to give us time to get people vaccinated,” Biden said on Monday. No cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in the US so far, but Fauci has warned the virus is probably already present in the country.