As the newest COVID-19 variant winds its way around the globe, health officials are warning Americans to prepare for Omicron.
"Well, it's almost definitely here already, just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend. It's almost a certainty that there have been cases that have gotten into the United States."
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS's “Face The Nation” on Sunday that while much is not known about the variant, vaccination remains key.
“If you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a booster vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant.”
Thirty percent of the U.S. population remains unvaccinated – possibly undermining the nation's recovery nearly two years after COVID-19's emergence.
Rising cases as colder weather forces more people indoors have already overwhelmed some hospital systems and led some U.S. states, including New York, to declare emergencies.
Omicron was first detected in southern Africa, igniting a flurry of travel bans restricting passengers from several southern African countries – something South African President Cyril Ramaphosa strongly pushed back against in a speech on Sunday.
“These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”
The variant has now also been confirmed in Australia, Hong Kong, the U.K., Europe and the middle east.