The Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has found its way into a number of European countries in recent days, will “inevitably” get to the United States, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
“The question is: Will we be prepared for it?” he said on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “The preparation that we have ongoing, for what we’re doing now with the Delta variant, just needs to be revved up.”
And a huge part of that preparation lies in our vaccination and booster efforts, he said. “If and when — and it is going to be when — it comes here, hopefully, we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via the vaccine, masking, all the things that we do and should be doing,” Fauci said.
On Friday, President Joe Biden announced travel bans to the U.S. from South Africa and seven other countries, after the coronavirus variant was classified as a highly transmissible virus of concern. The variant was first detected in South Africa earlier in the week.
Fauci said the travel bans will help delay the spread of the variant and allow for additional research and preparation.
“If you’re going to do the travel ban the way we’ve done now and that we’re implementing right now, utilize the time that you’re buying to fill in the gaps,” he said. The bit of extra time allows experts to “learn more about the virus [and] learn what its relationship is to the antibodies induced by vaccines.”