Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr.Anthony Fauci has warned that travelling in the Christmas holiday season can trigger the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus more severely in the United States.
His caution to the nation came at NBC’s Meet the Press program on Sunday.
“There’s no doubt about this, [Omicron] has an extraordinary capability of spreading,” he told NBC.
The top infectious disease expert repeated his call on people to wear masks, maintain social distancing in public places, and avoid unnecessary gatherings and travel as much as possible.
“Our hospitals, if things look like they’re looking now, are going to be very stressed,” Dr. Fauci warned.
Covid hospitalizations are up 16 percent from a fortnight ago. 69,387 people are currently admitted in U.S. hospitals due to the viral infection.
Fauci expressed concern that so many people in the country who are eligible to be inoculated are not utilizing that facility.
Despite the easy and free availability of Covid vaccines across the country, more than a quarter of the eligible U.S. population have not yet taken a single dose.
Nearly 40 percent still remain to get the second dose, while about 70 percent have not yet turned up to receive a booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The difference between a vaccinated and boosted person who has an infection, and someone who has an infection who has never been vaccinated – it’s a major difference with regard to the risk of severity,” Dr.Fauci said.
He had earlier said that the Omicron variant compromises the effects of two-dose mRNA vaccine-induced antibodies and reduces the overall protection.
Dr.Fauci’s cautioning came a few days after President Joe Biden warned that the Omicron variant is going to spread much more rapidly in the beginning of the New Year, and repeated his call to get vaccinated.
“For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death — if you’re unvaccinated — for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” he told reporters after meeting with Members of the Covid-19 Response Team Thursday.
The highly contagious Omicron variant is surging in Europe, and all indications point to another major surge of the pandemic in the United States.
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