On Tuesday, President Biden unveiled a new plan to tackle the omicron variant during a speech to the American people. He told vaccinated Americans they can still embrace their holiday plans without risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
- “I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends. The answer is, yes you can if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you’ve gotten your booster shot,” Biden said in the White House speech.
- Biden also announced the purchase of 500 million at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, which would be available next month to all Americans through the mail, according to CNN.
- And Biden said he would expand COVID-19 testing across the country and deploy more federal health resources to hospitals that are set to face the omicron variant, according to The Washington Post.
But public health officials said Biden’s plan did not go far enough to slow the spread of the omicron variant.
- “Some expressed frustration and alarm about what they described as a timid public health response, and bemoaned the apparent lack of will among politicians and society at large for more aggressive steps,” per The New York Times.
- Scientists are worried that the Biden administration has resigned to the fact that the omicron variant will spread to both unvaccinated and vaccinated alike.
And it’s not clear how the omicron variant impacts us yet. But scientists told The New York Times that the notion that the variant create mild illness has spread too far already.
- “This is an incredibly contagious pathogen, and we don’t know yet its impact on severity and death,” said Galit Alter, an immunologist and virologist affiliated with the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, M.I.T. and Harvard, according to The New York Times.
- “We have to reestablish the importance and rigor of the first wave,” she added. “We are back in ‘flatten the curve’ mode.”