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 - Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Fauci Floats Never-Ending COVID-19 Testing, Fourth Jabs & No New Year Revels

© REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUEFauci speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington
Fauci speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.12.2021
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The Biden administration cut coronavirus quarantine times from 10 to five days earlier this week, as soaring case numbers of the new Omicron strain threatened to cause a massive labour shortage across the US.
US President Joe Biden's COVID-19 Czar has told Americans to avoid big New Year's Eve parties — and prepare for another round of booster shots and endless testing.
Speaking at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci poured cold water on the end-of-year party season.
"If your plans are to go to a 40 to 50-person New Year's Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing," he said. "I would strongly recommend that this year, we do not do that."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio — a Democrat like Biden — was yet to get the message through, as the traditional January 31 midnight ball drop celebration in Times Square is set to go ahead with 15,000 revellers attending.
The controversial health expert also said it was "conceivable" that the Biden administration would order another round of booster shots — despite widespread hesitancy by citizens to get even the initial course of immunisation.
"Before we start talking about a fourth shot, it would be very important for us to determine the durability of protection, particularly against severe disease for the third shot booster of an mRNA [vaccine] and the second shot of a [Johnson & Johnson]," Fauci said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine, as opposed to most others which require a second jab to reach full effectiveness.
"It is conceivable that in the future, we might need an additional shot but right now, we are hoping that we will get a greater degree of durability of protection from that booster shot," he added. "So we're going to take one step at a time, get the data from the third boost and then make decisions based on scientific data."
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks about the Omicron coronavirus variant during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
Fauci Speechless After US Senator Asserts Epidemiologist 'Overhyped' COVID-19 Pandemic
Fauci predicted that monitoring for the virus
"We're never going to stop counting, tests — but we're looking forward, as everyone I think feels is appropriate, that ultimately we're going to have to live with something that will not be eradicated and very likely would not be eliminated," he said.
While justifying the cut in self-isolation time for those infected from 10 days to five since the arrival of the more-transmissible yet milder Omicron variant, Fauci appeared to concede that the policy had many negative impacts on society, not least in healthcare.
The chief medical advisor has been one of the strongest proponents of mask-wearing, lockdowns and other restrictions since the start of the pandemic in 2019.
But on Wednesday Fauci changed tack on re-imposing mask mandates for domestic airline flights, a move he suggested earlier in the week.
"At this particular time, we do not feel that it's necessary to make that a requirement for domestic flights," he said. "Right now we feel that the masking requirements and the degree of filtration on a plane are sufficient to keep people safe."
And he conceded that Omicron was a milder variant than those previously dominant.
"All indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron versus Delta," Fauci said, although he cautioned that the "final conclusion about the level of severity in children remains to be determined".
More than 543,000 positive COVID-19 tests were recorded in the US on Monday alone, with the daily average or the previous week more than 266,000.
But other countries have seen similar spikes during the latest wave of infections. The UK, with a fifth of the US population, registered a record 183,000 cases on Wednesday — while deaths continue to fall.
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