The omicron coronavirus variant has now been detected in a minimum of 24 international locations in 5 of six world areas—and as of this afternoon, that features the USA.
The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention confirmed this afternoon that the primary US case was detected in an individual in California who had returned to the US from South Africa on November 22 and examined constructive on November 29. Researchers on the College of California, San Francisco carried out genomic sequencing figuring out the omicron variant within the individual, and the CDC confirmed that sequencing.
The CDC reported that the individual was totally vaccinated and had solely gentle signs which are bettering. In a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, high infectious illness professional Anthony Fauci stated it appeared the individual had not but obtained a booster shot. Public well being specialists recommend that booster photographs will considerably enhance safety towards the brand new, nonetheless poorly understood variant.
The entire individual’s shut contacts are being adopted, Fauci added, and all have examined unfavourable to this point.
The detection of omicron within the US is unsurprising to well being officers. “It was only a matter of time earlier than the case of omicron could be detected in the USA,” Fauci stated. However, “we all know what we have to do to guard folks,” he added, itemizing vaccination, boosting, and masking.
A poisonous combine
The detection bolsters criticism towards hasty journey bans directed at southern Africa, the place officers bravely introduced the variant to worldwide consideration final week. Journey bans are typically not efficient at stopping worldwide unfold of a illness and may take a heavy toll on the international locations focused. In the meantime, enhanced world monitoring for omicron in current days has solely confirmed that the variant had already unfold extensively previous to journey bans being in place.
On November 30, the US enacted journey restrictions from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe. Since then, the variant has been detected in lots of different international locations, from which the variant can simply as simply unfold.
“Blanket journey bans won’t forestall the worldwide unfold of Omicron, and so they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” WHO Director-Normal Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in a press briefing earlier right now, earlier than the US introduced the detection of omicron.
Along with blasting punitive and ineffective journey bans, Dr. Tedros highlighted the inequities that led to the rise of omicron and proceed to threaten world public well being. “Globally, we have now a poisonous mixture of low vaccine protection, and really low testing—a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants,” Dr. Tedros stated.
He additionally redirected consideration away from omicron, the importance of which continues to be unclear. “We should not neglect that we’re already coping with a extremely transmissible, harmful variant—the Delta variant, which at the moment accounts for nearly all circumstances globally,” Dr. Tedros stated. “We have to use the instruments we have already got to forestall transmission and save lives from delta… if international locations and people don’t do what they should do to cease transmission of delta, they gained’t cease omicron both.”