WASHINGTON D.C.: Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that Christmas travel in the U.S. would increase the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, even among the fully vaccinated.
“There’s no doubt about this, [Omicron] has an extraordinary capability of spreading,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press.
While countries are tightening measures as the heavily mutated variant spreads, governments are also ramping up their Covid booster vaccination programs after researchers said the additional shot could provide 85 percent protection against severe illness.
“Our hospitals, if things look like they’re looking now, are going to be very stressed,” Fauci warned, adding that the public needed to take precautions, such as wearing face masks and social distancing.
At a White House press briefing, Fauci said unvaccinated people were at a much higher risk of serious infection and hospitalization. “We are looking over our shoulder at an oncoming Omicron surge. The fully vaccinated are doing much better… the optimum protection is fully vaccinated, plus a boost.”
Almost 73 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one Covid vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So far, almost 30 percent of Americans have had a booster shot.
The latest CDC estimates suggest the Omicron variant accounts for about 3 percent of current Covid cases, most of which have been recorded in the state of New York.