Early signals on the severity of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant are “a bit encouraging,” but it’s too soon to make a clear statement about whether it can cause severe disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, told CNN on Sunday.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said data so far suggests the variant is not causing more severe illness. He said:
But we really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to Delta. But thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity. But again, you got to hold judgment until we get more experience.
Fauci said the United States remains in constant communication with experts in South Africa. He said the Omicron variant is clearly becoming dominant in South Africa, especially as cases there were at a low level when the variant was identified.
He said it was not clear what would happen in the US and in other countries, where the highly transmissible Delta variant still dominates.
The question for us here in the United States, now that it is clearly here in at least 15 or more states and in about 40 countries, is: What is it going to be as it competes with a very dominant variant, Delta?
Fauci said booster doses of the coronavirus vaccines “are going to be really critical in addressing whether or not we're going to be able to handle this.”
Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all adults should get a coronavirus vaccine booster.