It seems as if once a new mutation of the Coronavirus is identified and named, it’s already too late to prevent it from spreading. As the United States is seeing another winter surge from the Delta Variant amid a more aggressive strain of the annual flu virus, the new Omicron Variant first identified in South Africa has now been seen in at least two cases in the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that anyone arriving in the U.K. will be asked to take a PCR test for Covid-19 on the second day and must self-isolate until they provide a negative test result. He also said the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport will be tightened.
A case of the new variant has also been detected in Italy, the National Health Institute said Saturday.All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, evolve over time, and as a virus replicates, or makes copies of itself, small changes, or “mutations,” can occur. When a virus spreads widely throughout a population, the chances of it mutating become higher. Omicron was identified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, sharing evidence suggesting there was “an increased risk of reinfection” with the variant. It was well known that viruses mutated and widespread vaccination was one of the most crucial ways of preventing this, several scientists told NBC News.
BREAKING—🇬🇧PM warns: “The #Omicron spreads very rapidly & can be spread between people double vaccinated. There is very extensive mutation—diverges quite significantly from previous, and as a result, might in part reduce the protection of our vaccines over time”. 👀 #BoosterShots pic.twitter.com/ojp4Zq7DAG
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 27, 2021
As the U.S. and other countries around the globe scrambled to contain the new Covid-19 variant, scientists have said they are unsurprised at its emergence and repeated calls for greater worldwide vaccination efforts. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News “Weekend TODAY” he “would not be surprised” if it had made its way to the U.S.
NOW: Watch more from @LesterHoltNBC's interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the Omicron variant.
Join us on your local NBC station. pic.twitter.com/Uio6gmiEi7
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) November 26, 2021
“We have not detected it yet,” Dr. Fauci said, “but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over.”
A quarter million African American and LatinX churches issued a statement of "full confidence " in Tony #Fauci & his words of #COVID19 wisdom.#HappyThanksgiving https://t.co/8ohxVhRYUN pic.twitter.com/aNVzMcJhKb
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) November 25, 2021
The WHO and scientists around the world have called on the global community since the early days of the pandemic to do what it can to ensure all countries have access to vaccines to curb the global spread of the virus and prevent the development of new variants.
Many thanks to Jim @Acosta for hosting me today re the omicron variant. The fact that omicron has been detected in multiple European nations and likely the US is not necessarily a cause for alarm given that this has been true for most of the emerging variants pic.twitter.com/Yvg7in5DQe
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) November 27, 2021
The WHO has said it will take at least 11 billion doses to see at least 70 percent of the world’s population vaccinated. So far, nearly 548 million doses have been shipped to 144 countries, with a total of 5.59 billion doses secured, optioned, or received, according to data published by the United Nations. Comparatively, more than 454 million doses have been administered in the U.S., where around 37.5 million people have already received a booster shot, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Biden on Omicron: "For the world community: the news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 26, 2021