Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosted a CNN town hall on the coronavirus Wednesday night, with guests including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Much of the discussion focused on Omicron, including what we do and don't know about the new variant. Here are five main takeaways:
- We don't know much about Omicron yet: The world has a lot to learn about the new variant before any decision can be made on how to address it, Fauci said. The single Omicron case detected in the United States so far “doesn’t really tell you much at all,” he added. “It's only a single person. You really can’t make a broad general statement or an extrapolation for what would go on with unvaccinated people or people who were boosted,” Fauci said. “So there’s a lot more to be learned.”
- Fauci says people should get vaccinated: Americans should not lose sight of the dangers of the Delta variant even as Omicron dominates headlines, Fauci said. "We still have 99.9% of the isolates are Delta, and we know what we can do with Delta," he said. "We have, within our capability, to block it by getting the people who are unvaccinated vaccinated." Americans should also take other precautions — including wearing masks — as colder weather settles on much of the country, Fauci added.
- It's still safe to travel: Despite the emergence of Omicron, Americans can still travel safely, Fauci said. He added he would not suggest anything different from previous safety recommendations. "We just have a problem that's identifiable now, and just as I said, and I'll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, your family's vaccinated, enjoy the holidays, indoor with your family in a family setting," he said.
- Moderna president's vaccine hopes: Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, expressed hope the pharmaceutical company's Covid-19 vaccine would deliver the "highest efficacy" against the Omicron variant. "Our hope, at least in Moderna, is that we're going to continue to see the highest efficacy overall and continue to see the boosters push that even higher," he said. However, he also acknowledged it is likely the current vaccines could be less effective against Omicron.
- It's still not clear if people will need a yearly booster: It's too early to tell whether people will need to receive a Covid-19 vaccine each year to protect against infection, Fauci said. “The honest answer is we don't know what's going to be required,” he said. “I hope we get a durability of protection from the boost that we won't have to be chasing all the time against the new variant but that just remains to be seen.”