Omicron: First US case found in person who was vaccinated but had not had booster, says Fauci

Dr Anthony Fauci said officials knew it was ‘just a matter of time’ before that variant arrived in the US

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 01 December 2021 21:17
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Omicron: First US case found

The US has identified its first positive case of coronavirus caused by the omicron variant, according to public health officials.

“We knew that it would be just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the US,” White House chief medical and Covid adviser Dr Anthony Fauci told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday. “We know what we need to do to protect people. Get vaccinated, if you’re not already vaccinated. Get boosted,” he continued.

The individual who tested positive was a traveler who returned to San Francisco, California, on 22 November from a trip to South Africa, where the variant was first identified.

The traveler was fully vaccinated against coronavirus but had not received a booster shot.

Since being infected, they have been experiencing mild symptoms which are improving, Mr Fauci added. The individual has self-quarantined, and all their close contacts have so far tested negative.

The results were confirmed via genomic sequencing at the University of California San Francisco, and verified by the California and San Francisco departments of public health, as well as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State officials urged Californians to remain calm and stick with proven pandemic safety measures like masks and vaccinations.

“As we continue to learn more about Omicron, there is no reason to panic but we should remain vigilant,” the governor’s office wrote in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday. “We know how to protect ourselves from Covid — get vaccinated, get your booster, and wear a mask.”

The omicron variant was first detected and announced by South Africa on 25 November, and has since become a “variant of concern” according to the World Health Organisation.

The US has temporarily suspended travel into the country from South Africa and a number of other southern African nations.

Omicron is genetically distinct from the dominant delta variant of the coronavirus, and scientists are still studying its transmissibility and severity. Dr Fauci told reporters that officials in countries like South Africa, where there are a larger number of omicron cases, will be able to share more information on the nature of the variant as they continue to treat cases over the coming weeks.

The White House is urging Americans to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, rather than waiting for potentially modified vaccine and booster shots specifically tailored to the omicron variant that could be created at a later date.

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