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US President Joe Biden will deliver an address to the nation on 29 November to provide an update on the government’s response to the emergence of the omicron variant of Covid-19, which the World Health Organization says poses a “very high” global risk.
The latest variant has not yet been detected in the US, though the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says it is likely to be “identified quickly” if so.
Health officials continue to urge unvaccinated Americans to get the Covid-19 vaccines against “shapeshifting” threats from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and for others to receive a “booster” dose to better protect against severe illness, hospitalisation and death.
“I know, America, you’re really tired about hearing those things, but the virus is not tired of us,” Dr Susan Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday. “And it’s shapeshifting itself.”
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced an indoor mask advisory for the city, regardless of vaccination status.
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Joe Biden to address nation on omicron response
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are receiving a briefing from members of the White House Covid-19 Response team before the president will deliver remarks about the status of the omicron variant and the government’s response.
He is scheduled to speak at 11.45am EST from the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
How many people in the US are vaccinated?
More than 196 million Americans, or nearly 60 per cent of the US population, has received both doses of two-dose Covid-19 vaccines from either Pfizer or Moderna, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
And more than 37 million Americans have received a “booster” vaccine dose, including more than 42 per cent of Americans over age 65.
Nearly 70 per cent of the US has received at least one dose.
Dr Anthony Fauci told the White House that existing vaccines “are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of Covid,” according to a White House statement.
“Dr Fauci also reiterated that boosters for fully vaccinated individuals provide the strongest available protection from Covid,” the Sunday night statement said. “The Covid Response Team’s immediate recommendation to all vaccinated adults is to get a booster shot as soon as possible; all adults are eligible for a booster if they were vaccinated six months ago or more with Pfizer or Moderna, or two months ago or more with Johnson & Johnson. Importantly, those adults and children who are not yet fully vaccinated should get vaccinated immediately.”
Breaking: New York mayor issues ‘mask advisory’ as scientists warn of omicron variant
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued a “mask advisory” for all indoor scenarios regardless of vaccination status as the US bolsters itself against the emergence of the omicron variant. Health officials have not yet detected the variant in the US.
It will take 14 days before the US knows the impact of omicron, Fauci told Biden
White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci told US president Joe Biden that it will take at least about two weeks to have definitive information about the omicron coronavirus variant.
Dr Fauci, who had earlier said that omicron will “inevitably” reach the US, met President Biden on Sunday with his Covid-19 response team to update him about the latest developments related to the new variant.
“It will take approximately two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant,” Dr Fauci told Mr Biden, according to a statement by the White House.
United States, Australia, countries in Europe and Asia have banned air travel from South Africa
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of President Joe Biden’s updates on Covid-19 and the emergence of the omicron variant, and how the US and health officials are preparing.