Dr. Anthony Fauci says there are signs that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, while fast-spreading, may not be as virulent at the delta strain fueling worldwide surges over the past several months.
The infectious disease expert, who serves as President Biden’s top medical adviser, said preliminary findings about the omicron variant are encouraging as far as its potency is concerned.
“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.”
Reports from South Africa, where the omicron strain is believed to have originated, indicate that its victims develop only mild symptoms, Fauci said.
There are no reports anywhere of people dying from the omicron strain.
Fauci said the Biden administration is contemplating lifting the recently imposed travel bans on a few African nations. The bans were ordered by the president in response to the appearance of the omicron in southern Africa.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres blasted the Biden travel bans, comparing them to apartheid, the former system of legalized racial segregation in South Africa.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that ban in a quite reasonable period of time,” Fauci said. “We all feel very badly about the hardship that has been put not only on South Africa but other African countries.”