Dr. Anthony Fauci offered some good news on Sunday regarding the omicron variant of COVID-19, saying it does not appear to be as severe as the delta variant.
Fauci confirmed that while the number of omicron cases is becoming higher than those of the delta variant, there are currently fewer hospitalizations and deaths caused by the omicron variant, according to CNN.
“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci told the outlet. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta. But thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity."
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Fauci also said booster shots against COVID-19 will be "really critical" in addressing the omicron variant. He said the current COVID-19 vaccine is directed against the original version of COVID-19, with its antibodies spilling over to protect against other variants. Fauci added that if a person gets boosted against COVID-19, their protection level will go "way up" against the omicron variant.
The first omicron case in the United States was reported in California on Dec. 1 from a fully vaccinated individual who had recently arrived from South Africa. As of Dec. 5, a total of 16 states, including Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri, and New York, had reported cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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As of Monday, the seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is 8.26%. As of Sunday, at least 71% of U.S. residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with roughly 59.9% fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.