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Omicron lacks ‘great degree of severity,’ says Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci gives an update on the severity of the new variant

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as he speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. Alex Brandon, Associated Press

The new omicron variant of the coronavirus comes with the lack of knowledge about its transmissibility and the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that the preliminary findings are encouraging during his Sunday appearance on CNN.

  • He said that while it is too early for experts to make conclusions, early reports suggest that omicron might result in less severe COVID-19 infections compared to the delta variant, which is dominant in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • A report by South African officials suggested that most omicron cases were mild among children, per Reuters.
  • “Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” said Fauci. “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.”

Based on these revelations, Fauci also said that the Biden administration may lift the recent travel ban on African nations.

  • “Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that ban in a quite reasonable period of time,” Fauci said. “We all feel very badly about the hardship that has been put on not only on South Africa but the other African countries.”
  • Currently, the travel restrictions are imposed on Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, per The New York Times.