Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there is no sign right now that the new Omicron variant of coronavirus is more severe than previous versions, but that more information is needed from officials in South Africa to know for sure.
"Right now it does not look like there's a big signal of a high degree of severity, but it's too early to tell," Fauci said, speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper this afternoon.
Fauci said his counterparts in South Africa were working quickly to determine how contagious and dangerous the variant is, but said "they assured us they'd know probably in a matter of a week, a week and a half as to whether or not we're dealing with something that for the most part is more severe, equally as severe or less severe."
"It could be either of them," Fauci said.
Fauci also praised the work of scientists and officials in South Africa, saying they "had been extremely cooperative and collaborative and transparent with us about what's going on there."