Omicron Shouldn’t Cancel Year-End Holiday Plans, Fauci Says
(Bloomberg) -- The arrival of the highly-mutated omicron variant in the U.S. shouldn’t cancel end-of-year holiday plans for fully vaccinated Americans, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said.
“If you are vaccinated and your family is vaccinated, enjoy the holidays,” said Anthony Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. “I would not do anything different than what we had recommended,” he said during a CNN Global Town Hall on coronavirus.
More cases of omicron will be detected as the weeks go by, he predicted, saying it’s something people should anticipate. The news of more infections shouldn’t stop families from gathering together, indoors, without masks, he said.
The comments are welcome news for Americans and others around the world who have seen almost two years of holidays and special events cancelled as the globe continues to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The detection of the omicron variant led countries around the world to institute travel bans on southern African countries where it was first found, rasing concern that additional curbs may follow as the new strain spreads globally.
Those who are traveling in the coming weeks should take precautions, including diligent mask-wearing, Fauci said.
“Many of us will have to travel during the holidays,” he said. “What you do when you travel, you take care. Be prudent.”
Fauci’s comments came on the same day the first confirmed U.S. case of the omicron variant was detected in California. It has been detected in more than two dozen countries ranging from Australia to Germany to Canada. Its arrival had been widely expected in the U.S., and researchers are racing to understand the impact of the heavily mutated strain that features changes that are absent in other major variants.
The decision to impose restrictions on travelers from South Africa was difficult, and one the U.S. hopes it’s able to quickly reverse, he said.
“I would hope if we get enough information soon that we can pull back on that as quickly as possible,” Fauci said.. “Because you don’t want individual countries to feel that when they are honest and transparent, there are negative consequences for them.”
Fauci said he wouldn’t be surprised if the level of neutralizing antibodies from vaccines to block omicron is lower than with other variants given the number of mutations. Some signs of immune evasion are already emerging. But he expects lab results on the vaccine’s efficacy in the coming weeks to shed more light on the topic, followed by real-world data that will show how protective the immunizations ultimately are.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.