Fauci: Omicron ‘Very Different From Other Variants’

Nov. 30, 2021 — The newly detected Omicron COVID-19 variant could also be extremely infectious and fewer conscious of accessible vaccines than different mutations, however it’s too early to know the way it compares to the Delta variant, high infectious illness official Anthony Fauci, MD, mentioned Tuesday.

Fauci, talking at a White House COVID-19 briefing, mentioned there’s a “very unusual constellation of changes” throughout the COVID-19 genome that signifies it’s not like any variant we’ve got seen to this point.

“This mutational profile is very different from other variants of interest and concern, and although some mutations are also found in Delta, this is not Delta,” he mentioned. “These mutations have been associated with increase transmissibility and immune evasion.”

Omicron is the fifth COVID-19 variant of concern.

Detected first in South Africa, Omicron has been present in 20 international locations to this point. There are not any recognized instances but within the United States, nevertheless it has been detected in Canada.

Omicron has greater than 30 mutations to the spike protein — the a part of the virus that binds to human cells, Fauci mentioned.

Though the mutations counsel there may be elevated transmission of this variant, he mentioned it’s too quickly to know the way this compares to the Delta variant. And although the vaccines will not be as efficient towards Omicron, he mentioned there’ll seemingly be some safety.

“Remember, as with other variants, although partial immune escape may occur, vaccines — particularly boosters — give a level of antibodies that, even with variants like Delta, give you a degree of cross-protection, particularly against severe disease,” Fauci mentioned.

“When we say that although these mutations suggest a diminution of protection and a degree of immune evasion, we still, from experience with Delta, can make a reasonable conclusion that you would not eliminate all protection against this particular variant.”

So far, there is no such thing as a purpose to imagine Omicron will trigger extra extreme sickness than different variants of concern.

“Although some preliminary information from South Africa suggests no unusual symptoms associated with the variant, we do not know, and it is too early to tell,” Fauci mentioned.

He beneficial that folks proceed to put on masks, wash their arms, and keep away from crowded indoor venues. Most importantly, he beneficial that everybody get their vaccines and boosters.

“One thing has become clear over the last 20 months: We can’t predict the future, but we can be prepared for it,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, mentioned on the briefing. “We have far more tools to fight the variant today than we did at this time last year.”

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