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Dr. Fauci Says Do This Now to Prepare For New Variant

Everything you need to know about Omicron.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

News of a new coronavirus variant called Omicron has everyone asking questions. Is it safe to travel? Can we enjoy the holidays? Is this variant more severe than Delta? If not, maybe it's a good thing? To answer these questions and more, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta yesterday during a CNN Global Town Hall. Read on for 5 life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Fauci Said It's Still Too Early To Tell What Omicron Will Do

Doctor analyzing patient blood and nasal swab testing sample for new covid-19 mutation.

One vaccinated person from California has been determined to have a breakthrough case of Omicron. But Dr. Fauci says you can't draw conclusions from that discrete case. More study is required. "One of the things that's going to happen in the next couple of weeks is that we're going to get the virus, which we have and you grow the virus or you make what's called a pseudo virus, which is a form of virus that you could work with in the test tube very easily," said Dr. Fauci. "Then we're going to get data from people who've recovered from COVID as well as individuals who've been vaccinated and who've developed different types of antibodies to block the virus. And we'll see if in fact this particular virus is still sensitive to the antibodies that were induced by the vaccines that we're using. We expect, and I wouldn't be surprised if the level of protection diminishes somewhat given the constellations of mutations that we see that would suggest immune evasion there, but you never know until you test it in an in vitro or test tube situation, but then you get into the real world data about what happens when a vaccinated person or a boosted person comes into contact and gets infected."

Added Fauci: "These are all things that are unknown. We'll get the laboratory data in a couple of weeks, but we'll have to get the experience from our South African colleagues about what the real clinical effect is going to be."


Dr. Fauci Implores You to Get Vaccinated and Boosted and Here's Why

Woman in medical face mask getting Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital

Dr. Fauci said President Biden and his team are "talking about of making sure that the unvaccinated get vaccinated and that people who are fully vaccinated get their boosters as quickly as they possibly can if they are eligible. Because the question arises, you jump ahead of yourself and you say, well, is there going to be a variant-specific boost? And if so, should I wait to get that boost? And the answer is no, if you are eligible, namely, if you've had the Moderna or the Pfizer, and you're six months following your primary regimen of vaccination, or you're two months following J&J don't wait, get that extra boost now, because we know when you do that, the level of antibodies, as I think you already mentioned on the show, Sanjay, the level of antibodies that rise and go up following a boost is much, much higher than the peak level that you get after your second dose of a dose vaccine."

"That's what you really want to see, because we know from our experience with Delta, that even though the vaccine is not directed specifically at Delta, it's directed against the ancestral strain, the Wuhan strain," added Fauci. "Yet when you get your levels of anybody high enough, you protect against Delta. That's where we're hoping, we'll see with the Omicron variant, that if you get your levels high enough, it'll spill over and get cross protection against that variance."

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Dr. Fauci Said Don't Forget: Delta is Still Out There. Protect Yourself.

Technician holding tube of blood test identified with the label Covid-19 DELTA Variant.

Delta is still the predominant strain. And it's dangerous. "We don't want people because they hear of a single case of a new variant that just has now arrived in the United States, as well as what's going on in South Africa or in other countries throughout the world to take our eye off the ball of the problem that we are facing. Right now, we are entering into a much colder season. We still have 99.9% of the isolates are Delta. And we know what we can do with Delta. We have within our capability to block it by getting the people who are unvaccinated vaccinated, and we still have about 60 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated or not vaccinated. And to get those people who are already primarily vaccinated, fully vaccinated to get them when they are eligible to get their booster for the reasons that I just said."

"And then we have other things," said Dr. Fauci. "And you mentioned them just a bit ago, you know, wearing proper masks when you're in an indoor congregate setting, getting the children vaccinated. That's really very important. We have 28 million children between the age of five and 11, who, if we get them vaccinated, we'll protect them for their own health as well as to prevent the further spread in the community. So there are a lot of things that we can do now with what we're dealing with now. And what we're dealing with now is Delta."

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Dr. Fauci Said This About Traveling

Woman with luggage stands at almost empty check-in counters at the airport terminal due to coronavirus pandemic/Covid-19 outbreak travel restrictions.

Regarding travel for the holidays, "I would not do anything different than we had been recommending all along, despite the fact that we have a case and we likely will see more cases of Omicron as the weeks and the days go by. I wouldn't be surprised. I had already said it a little bit ago that I wouldn't be surprised if we see a first case soon, but we just have a problem that's identifiable now. And just as I said, and I'll say it again. If you have a vaccinated situation, your family's vaccinated enjoy the holidays, indoor with your family and a family setting."

He added: "Many of us will have to travel during the holidays. What you do, when you travel, travel always increases somewhat the risk of getting infected. But if you wear a mask, particularly when you're in an airport in the congregate setting, you have to wear a mask when you get on the plane. And if you can just get vaccinated, as soon as you can. And right now is the time to get boosted the children also, now's the time to get the five and 11 year olds vaccinated so that as we get into those winter months and we approach the holidays, will at least be partially vaccinated."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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