The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California health authorities have confirmed the first case of the newvariant in the United States on Wednesday, claiming that a person who had recently visited South Africa had tested positive for the strain.
“The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is in self-quarantine and has since tested positive,” the CDC said in a statement. “All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative.”
The health agency said the emergence of the variant “underscores the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19. Everyone should get vaccinated, reminders are recommended for all people 18 years of age and over “.
South Africathe variant at the World Health Organization last week, and the agency called Omicron a “variant of concern.” The Biden administration responded by announcing restrictions on international travel from eight countries in southern Africa.
The person who tested positive returned from South Africa to the United States on November 22, the CDC said. The University of California at San Francisco performed genomic sequencing of the individual’s test, and the CDC confirmed that it was the Omicron variant.
At the White House on Wednesday, Dr.Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said Americans should continue to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the variant. He also urged Americans to “get the boost now,” saying the extra dose of vaccine likely provides some level of protection against the variant.
“There’s every reason to believe that that kind of increase that you get with the boost would be helpful at least in preventing serious illness from a variant like omicron,” he said. “We may not need a variant specific boost. We are preparing for the possibility that we need a variant specific boost.”
The exact performance of vaccines against the variant remains uncertain. In “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Dr., a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a member of the Pfizer board of directors, expressed confidence in vaccines.
“People who have looked at this footage closely… these people are reasonably confident that three doses of the vaccine are going to be protective,” Gottlieb said. “Now that could be a really big push to try to stimulate more people.”
The emergence of the variant in the United States comes in the midst of the peak vacation travel season. According to the AAA Automobile Club, it is estimated that more than 53 million Americans traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase from last year.