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President Biden Urges Americans to Stay Vigilant Against Omicron Variant But Pledges ‘No New Lockdowns’

President Biden Urges Americans to Stay Vigilant Against Omicron Variant But Pledges ‘No New Lockdowns’

President Joe Biden urged Americans on Monday not to panic about the new COVID-19 Omicron variant and said the United States was making contingency plans with pharmaceutical companies if new vaccines are needed.

The President said the country would not go back to lockdowns to stop the spread of Omicron, and he would lay out his strategy last Thursday for combating the pandemic over the winter. He urged people to get vaccinated, get boosters and wear masks.

Omicron has prompted countries across the globe including the United States to limit travel from southern Africa, where the virus was first detected. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it carries a very high risk of infection surges, but said no deaths had yet been linked to the new variant.

President Biden also acknowledged Americans’ weariness and fear amid the prospect of a new winter outbreak after nearly two years of living under pandemic conditions. “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he said in remarks at the White House following a meeting with his COVID-19 team. “We’re going to fight and beat this new variant,” he said.

President Biden said he believed that existing vaccines would continue to protect against severe disease, but added that his administration was working with vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans. “In the event, hopefully unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool,” the President said. He also said he would direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make those vaccines available quickly.

 

President Biden said it was “inevitable” that Omicron cases would emerge in the United States. But White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the variant should not cause Americans to change their holiday travel plans as long as they are vaccinated and wear masks.

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