White House says it’s ready if omicron arrives in U.S.

“Right now there is no evidence of omicron in the United States,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

But the White House COVID-19 Response Team says they’re ready if the variant arrives as it continues to spread worldwide.

“Confirmed cases as of yesterday was 205 in 18 countries, and just this morning that’s gone up to 226 in 20 countries,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

Dr. Cameron Webb of the White House COVID-19 Response Team told Local 10 News that current vaccines could provide some protection against the new variant.

“Our expectation and our hope is that vaccines will continue to provide a high level of protection, but we don’t know exactly what that is going to look at,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strengthened its recommendations, saying everyone 18 and older should get a booster shot six months after the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We know vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself against severe illness and complications from all known SARS variants,” Walensky said.

The White House says all three companies are ready to update their versions of the vaccine if necessary.

“It’s always important and helpful to have that tool in our toolbelt with updated vaccine, but I think more broadly having a broader paradigm of how we are preparing communities for it is really the key,” Webb said.

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