White House Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans over the weekend that they must "be prepared to do anything and everything" to fight the spread of the new Omicron variant of COVID, including lockdowns and other public health mandates.
During a conversation with anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday's "This Week" on ABC, the infectious diseases expert predicted that while it's "too early to say" what will happen next, Americans must "prepare for the worst."
"It may not be we'll have to go the route people are saying. We don't know a lot about this virus," Dr. Fauci admitted, as reported by Breitbart. "So we want to prepare as best we can, but it may turn out this preparation, although important, may not necessarily push us to the next level."
The 80 year old National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director explained that he was aware that people were already "talking about lockdowns," but said that the health agency is working with "the information we're getting in real time." He added that any decisions made with regards to COVID's Omicron variant will be "based on the science and the evidence the way we always do."
Dr. Fauci warned, however, that "you want to be prepared to do anything and everything," which may include lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and other public health requirements. He reasoned the Omicron variant of COVID is "troublesome" due to its mutations that could evade immunity from vaccines and previous infections, the New York Post reported. The infectious diseases expert explained that the mutations are "troublesome in the fact that there are about 32 or more variants in that very important spike protein of the virus, which is the business end of the virus."
Dr. Fauci added that the Omicron variant's mutation profile "strongly suggests" that it will have "an advantage in transmissibility." He added that this is just one indication that Americans must be prepared to prevent the spread of this COVID variant. The infectious diseases expert cited the recent spike of new COVID cases in South Africa, which previously and surprisingly to scientists, a low level of infection before they detected the Omicron variant in the region.
The White House confirmed that Dr. Fauci briefed President Biden about the Omicron variant of COVID, announcing that it would take about two more weeks to have "more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant." The authorities continue to believe that vaccination is still key in protecting against emerging variants of COVID. Dr. Fauci underscored the importance of booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals to "provide the strongest available protection from COVID."
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci's worst critics took no time in going after the NIAID director after his most recent statements about the Omicron variant, Fox News reported. Sen. Rand Paul, a vocal opponent of Dr. Fauci and who called the latter a "medical dictator", took to Twitter on Sunday to express disapproval over the NIAID director's claims of representing science.
The Republican leader commented, "It's astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity."
It's also worth noting that according to Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South Afrtican doctor who discovered the variant and alerted authorities about it, the hype surrounding the new variant is too much, especially considering how it's too early to make any final decisions about it.
More importantly, Dr. Coetzee said the symptoms might be "unusual," but they're certainly "mild" and are no cause for concern.
"It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home," she said.