US President Joe Biden (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )
The US president plans to take action against omicron "not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."
US President Biden asked Americans to be calm while scientists strive to evaluate the power and transmissibility of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, claiming that the US is prepared to cope with the new strain moving throughout the world.
The variant is a "cause for concern, not a reason for panic," the president said, accompanied by chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris.
He claims that the US has more COVID-19-fighting capabilities than it has in the past, and that it is in a far better position to combat the virus now than it was in March or even December 2020.
"Sooner or later, we're going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States," he said. "We'll have to face this new threat, just as we faced those that have come before it."
On Thursday, the president stated that he will unveil a more comprehensive strategy for combating COVID-19 and the Omicron variant in the coming weeks.
Biden said the country would not go back to lockdowns to stop the spread of Omicron.
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"While we have travel restrictions that can slow the speed of Omnicron, it cannot prevent it," the president said. "But here's what it does: it gives us time. It gives us time to take more actions; to move quicker — to make sure people understand you have to get your vaccine, you have to get the shot, you have to get the booster. "
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the Omicron variant as a "variant of concern" since it has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone.
Preliminary data shows an increased risk of transmission when compared to other variations of concern, according to the WHO.
As a result of this classification and information, new travel restrictions have been imposed, as well as study into the variant's influence on the efficacy of existing vaccinations and testing.
(With inputs from agencies)