Dr. Fauci Shares His Thoughts On The COVID-19 Omicron Variant

The Omicron variant has raised concern across the globe. Could this new variant be what we have been fearing for over a year, namely a severe variant that evades vaccines and sends us back to square one?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the President of United States and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has told PBS NewsHour that although the variant has a number of mutations that suggest it may be much more transmissible and may even evade vaccine-induced antibodies, he would be "very surprised" if COVID-19 vaccines offered no protection against the variant. As of yet, however, there is not enough evidence to draw any conclusions.

We also don't know the severity of the variant. Fauci tells CNN that currently "it does not look like there's a big signal of a high degree of severity, but it's too early to tell," and it could end up going either way.

How does Fauci suggest we prepare for the Omicron variant?

"It could be a highly transmissible virus without severe consequences, or not. We don't know that," he tells PBS NewsHour, before adding that we should have answers to our questions within a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, he says that we need to "prepare for the worst", since the variant will inevitably arrive in the United States if it hasn't already (via CNBC). He says that it's too early to tell whether new mandates will be warranted, and that as of now, we just have to follow what the experts have been saying all along. While he says that we can continue gathering with others, we should wear masks when congregating in indoor settings.

"If ever there was a reason for people to say 'let's get vaccinated if you're not vaccinated, and if you are vaccinated, by all means, get boosted', this is really a very strong endorsement of that," he adds.