Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Thursday that the newly discovered omicron variant will be the dominant strain of coronavirus “very soon.”
The variant, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, “has an extraordinary ability to transmit efficiently and spread.”
“It has what we call a doubling time of about three days, and if you count on it, if you only have a few percent of the isolates that are omicron, it will very soon be the dominant variant,” Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that cases of the omicron variant are on the rise. In the week ending December 4, the omicron variant accounted for less than 1% – 0.4% – of all new cases in the United States.
Next week, omicron cases rose to account for almost 3% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide. However, the Delta variant still accounts for the vast majority of cases in the United States – almost 97%.
“We’ve seen that in South Africa, we’re seeing it in the UK, and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re going to see here relatively soon,” Drs. Fauci with reference to the recent increases in these countries.
On Wednesday, Britain reported the country’s highest one-day total since the pandemic began: 78,610 new coronavirus cases, an increase from 59,610 the day before – and topped the previous one-day high of 68,053, which was reported on 8 January.
On Thursday, Britain broke that record again with 88,376, an increase of almost 10,000 from the day before.
South Africa, where the omicron variant was first discovered, reported a record-breaking 26,976 cases on Wednesday, believed to be largely driven by the tribe. The number darkens the previous record set back in July, when the delta variant drove an increase in cases.
At “GMA” on Thursday, Dr. Fauci Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and urged those vaccinated to get a booster as soon as possible, but reiterated his comments from a COVID-19 briefing in the White House on Wednesday that there is “no need for a variant-specific booster. “
“At this point, we do not believe you need an omicron-specific boost,” Fauci said Thursday. “We just need to get boosted with what you originally got for the primary vaccination.”
With some colleges closing early due to COVID hikes and the holidays approaching, Dr. Fauci that hopefully vaccinations, masking and other CDC recommendations should help the country resist the rise and prevent more closures.
“I hope that if we get enough people vaccinated and boosted and continue to adhere to the recommendations of the CDC, for example, like masking when you are in an indoor assembly environment, I believe we can get through this increase,” he said .
“Obviously, in the winter months, with indoor assembly with the holiday season, we will inevitably see even more cases than we see now,” said Dr. Fauci continued. “But if we handle it well and keep pushing on the vaccinations, I hope when we get through the winter we will be on a downhill slope as opposed to a climb to cope with it.”
Dr. Fauci told “GMA” that with the holidays approaching, people can stay safe by wearing masks and being vaccinated.
“If you and your family are vaccinated and boosted, hopefully you should feel safe having a holiday situation where you have dinners and gatherings in your own home with family and friends,” he said. “But it will only be safe if people are vaccinated.”