The new Omicron variant of Covid was first detected in the U.S. on Wednesday, December 1. This new variant is spreading rapidly, even though the transmissibility is expected to be the same. Does this mean that we have to cancel our holiday plans?
Fortunately, vaccinations have been effective against other covid variants, like the Delta variant, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts vaccinations will be effective against Omicron too. However, he is still not 100% sure if people will need yearly or frequent Covid-19 booster shots. This is why health officials are pushing Americans to get a vaccination or a booster shot to protect themselves and everyone around them. “Just as I said and I’ll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, enjoy the holidays with your family in a family setting,” said Dr. Fauci at a CNN Global Town Hall on Wednesday.
Because Dr. Fauci and others do not have a lot of information on the new Omicron, some Americans are waiting for more data before getting the booster. On the other hand, Dr. Fauci are urging people not to wait because the level of antibodies rises when one takes the booster, making the peak level of antibodies exponentially higher than after getting only a second dose.
Dr. Fauci’s words do not get rid of the traveling concerns many countries have. With at least 25 countries that detected Omicron, many should opt out of traveling if they can for extra safety measures. President Biden set new restrictions on traveling to certain places such as South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first identified. Airlines also must collect contact information from all passengers before arrival to keep track of any exposures to the virus. Due to Omicron, those who are not fully vaccinated, over 60, or have comorbidities should refrain from traveling to other places. Even though such travel bans and precautions are made, Dr. Fauci imagines that these bans will be temporary. “No one feels — I certainly don’t — that a travel ban is going to prevent people who are infected from coming to the United States,” Fauci continues, “But we needed to buy some time to be able to prepare, understand what’s going on.”
Ultimately, the discovery of the Omicron should make everyone very vigilant to safety precautions and everyone should try to get vaccinated or get the booster to enjoy the holiday plans most haven’t had since 2018.