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Dr. Fauci shares more details about first U.S. omicron variant case

Dr. Fauci said that the first case of the omicron COVID-19 variant has hit the U.S., and the patient has experienced symptoms

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Dr. Anthony Fauci during the daily briefing at the White House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki walks to the podium as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to depart after speaking about the COVID-19 variant named omicron during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus has hit the United States, and details of the first case have begun to emerge.

Is the omicron variant in the U.S.?

On Wednesday, both the California and San Francisco departments of public health confirmed there was a recent COVID-19 case found in an individual in California caused by the omicron variant, also known by its scientific name, B.1.1.529.

  • “Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed at CDC as being consistent with the Omicron variant. This will be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States,” the CDC said.

Details of first omicron case

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shared some additional facts about the omicron case, according to CNN.

  • Fauci said the person returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive on Nov. 29 — just two days ago.
  • The person was fully vaccinated. So far, the patient has experienced only mild symptoms and has been improving, Fauci said.
  • Close contacts to the person have all tested negative so far, according to Fauci.

Does omicron lead to mild symptoms?

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, who sounded the alarm on the omicron variant, told BBC Sunday that her patients with omicron only experienced “extremely mild” symptoms.

  • “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa — and remember I’m at the epicenter of this where I’m practicing — is extremely mild, for us these are‚ mild cases. We haven’t admitted anyone, I’ve spoken to other colleagues of mine and they give the same picture.”

Dr. Francis Collins, the director for the National Institutes of Health, said over the weekend there was  “no data so far to suggest” that the omicron variant causes more severe symptoms, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • “There’s even a bit of a report from South Africa that maybe people with this are milder than usual, but they’re mostly young people who have mild illness anyway,” Collins said.