The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said that recently detected COVID-19 strain Omicron could possibly be in the US, media agencies reported on Sunday.
However, there are no confirmed cases with the new variant in the US until now, the professor highlighted that he “would not be surprised” if Omicron made its way to the US.
Fauci told “Weekend Today” show: “We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve been noted in Israel and Belgium and in other places — when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over.”
After that, he asserted that the new strain has huge number of mutations which makes it more concerning, adding: “We don’t know that yet, but we’re going to assume that’s the case.”
In the same context, Fauci reflected that the various mutations of the recent detected strain could impact the effectiveness of the available vaccines.
“These are all maybes, but the suggestion is enough,” he commented, continuing: “This is something we got to pay really close attention to and be prepared for something that’s serious. It may not turn out that way, but you really want to be ahead of it.”
It is worthy to mention that South African scientists detected at least 30 mutations in the spike protein of the virus, according to scientist Tulio de Oliveira.
WHO official Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said: “We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.”
Until now, a few cases of the new strain were reported in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel.
Several countries started imposing protective traveling restrictions amid Omicron’s outbreak such as Japan, France, Egypt, UK, UAE, and others.