President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday that while the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than Delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.
Reports from South Africa, where it emerged and is becoming the dominant strain, suggest that hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Fauci said that scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about omicron’s severity. “Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta.”
Two years into the pandemic, COVID-19 has killed over 780,000 Americans, and deaths are running at about 860 per day. More than 6,600 new hospital admissions are being reported daily, according to tracking data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Fauci, to @jaketapper on CNN: “Thus far, though it’s too early to make definitive statements about [omicron], it does not look like there is a great deal of severity to it. Thus far the signals are encouraging on the severity.”
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) December 5, 2021
Omicron had been detected in about a third of U.S. states by Sunday, including in the Northeast, the South, the Great Plains, and the West Coast. Wisconsin, Missouri, and Louisiana were among the latest states to confirm cases. But Delta still remains the dominant variant, making up more than 99% of cases and driving a surge of hospitalizations in the north. National Guard teams have been sent to help overwhelmed hospitals in western New York, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring any hospitals facing limited patient capacity to reduce scheduled procedures that are not urgent.
An update from Dr. Fauci on the Omicron COVID-19 variant. pic.twitter.com/37EIy6O1wV
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 30, 2021
U.S. officials continued urging people to get vaccinated and to receive booster shots, as well as take precautions such as wearing masks when among strangers indoors, saying anything that helps protect against Delta will also help protect against other variants.
Dr. Anthony Fauci cautions about making early judgment about Omicron, but says:
“Thus far, though it's too early to really make any definitive statements about it, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it.” pic.twitter.com/eHGMmv5PO1
— The Recount (@therecount) December 5, 2021
You can watch Dr. Fauci’s full conversation with Jake Tapper, below.