The United States might have expected coronavirus variants to pop up, but the country’s top officials were left baffled by what they found with the omicron variant.
- “We didn’t see Delta coming. I think most scientists did not — upon whose advice and direction we have relied — didn’t see Delta coming,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “We didn’t see Omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walked that idea back over the weekend in an interview with CNN, saying the country predicted variants would come — only they didn’t see so many mutations as a possibility.
- “We definitely saw variants coming,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “What was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations in the amino acid substitutions in omicron, which was really unprecedented.”
Fauci said it’s not surprising the coronavirus has mutated so much since it has had time to mutate while it circulates through the public.
- “When you have so much replication going on in the community, to give a virus enough opportunity to replicate, you know it’s ultimately going to mutate, and sometimes those mutations wind up a new variant,” Fauci said. “That’s what happened with delta, certainly that’s what happened with omicron.”
Top health officials have been calling on vaccinated people to get their booster shots to stay safe. Meanwhile, officials called on the unvaccinated to receive full vaccination to combat the virus — otherwise, they risk severe COVID-19 symptoms and death.
- “For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death ... for themselves, their families and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” President Joe Biden said last week. “But there’s good news. If you’re vaccinated, and you have your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death, period.”