The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus continues to be more contagious compared to previous COVID-19 strains, Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend.

Fauci, the White House medical adviser on the coronavirus, said in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week” that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise because the variant is “extraordinarily contagious.”

  • “Well, there’s one thing that’s for sure that we all agree upon, that it is extraordinarily contagious,” Fauci said. ”It’s just outstripped even the most contagious of the previous ones, including Delta. There’s no argument on anybody’s part about that.” 
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Fauci said the omicron variant will reach more people, leading to increased symptoms. But, he said, the goal is to keep people out of the hospital.

  • “The one that would be immediate is to make sure, given the rapid spread of this extraordinary variant, that we don’t get an overrun on hospitals, particularly in those regions in which you have a larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the omicron variant would lead to a massive surge in cases in the winter — but there was a question about whether it would be in January or April 2022.

  • The CDC said in a warning that the “current increases in omicron cases are likely to lead to a national surge in the coming weeks with peak daily numbers of new infections that could exceed previous peaks.”

So far, early data shows that the omicron variant leads to less severe COVID-19 symptoms and fewer hospitalizations, as I wrote for the Deseret News