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Dr. Fauci Says Early ‘Encouraging’ Reports Indicate Omicron Variant May Not Be As Deadly As Delta

Dr. Fauci Says Early ‘Encouraging’ Reports Indicate Omicron Variant May Not Be As Deadly As Delta

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.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 20: Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

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).

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.

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.

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You can watch Dr. Fauci’s full conversation with Jake Tapper, below.

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