White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on Sunday that travel restrictions cannot completely stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant, dubbed “Omicron,” into the U.S.
Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledges there’s “no way” travel bans would completely prevent COVID-19 variants from entering the country, but tells @GStephanopoulos that the policies "delay it enough to get us better prepared." https://t.co/G7DDQ1ZhuC pic.twitter.com/gTQrrXr6m2
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 28, 2021
“Travel bans, when you have a highly transmissible virus, never completely would…prevent it from coming into the country. No way that’s going to happen,” Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week. “What you can do is, you can delay it enough to get us better prepared.”
Fauci called for “utiliz[ing] the time” afforded by a travel ban to research the new variant and get more people vaccinated. The Biden administration imposed bans on travel from eight southern African nations, exempting American citizens and legal permanent residents, after the Omicron variant was detected in those countries.
The new variant has over 30 mutations to the virus’s spike protein, which project from the virus’s surface, and has caused fears that the variant could partially evade immunity provided by coronavirus vaccines.
“It does make you worry that it’s a sufficiently different virus that it might not respond as well to protection from the vaccines. But we don’t know that,” National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins said on Fox News Sunday. Collins cautioned that it will “take two, three weeks in both laboratory and field studies” to see whether the mutations allow the variant to “evade protection.”
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said vaccine developers are “fairly confident” that people vaccinated with booster shots should be protected from the Omicron variant.
Does prior infection with the #Delta variant provide durable immunity?
Does a three shot regimen — including a booster — provide the same immunity?
WATCH –> pic.twitter.com/9Q36LePkAG
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) November 28, 2021
“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 boosted vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant,” Gottlieb told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation.