Biden warns of Omicron panic, promises no new lockdowns – .

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Biden warns of Omicron panic, promises no new lockdowns – .


WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans not to panic over the new variant of COVID-19 Omicron and said the United States was making contingency plans with drug companies if new vaccines were needed.

Biden said the country will not return to lockdowns to stop the spread of Omicron, and he will present his strategy for tackling the pandemic during the winter on Thursday. He urged people to get vaccinated, receive boosters and wear masks. Read more

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said in remarks to the White House following a meeting with his COVID-19 team.

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“We’re going to fight and beat this new variant,” he said.

Omicron has urged countries around the world, including the United States, to limit travel from southern Africa, where the virus was first detected. The World Health Organization said on Monday it carries a very high risk of outbreaks of infection, but said no deaths have yet been linked to the new variant.

Biden said it was inevitable that Omicron cases would emerge in the United States. But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the variant shouldn’t cause Americans to change vacation travel plans as long as they’re vaccinated and wearing masks.

Biden said he believed existing vaccines would continue to protect against serious illness, but added his administration was working with vaccine makers Pfizer (PFE.N), Moderna (MRNA.O) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ .N) to develop the contingency of the plans. Read more

“In the hopefully unlikely event that updated vaccinations or boosters are required to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with all available tools,” he said.

Biden said he would ask the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make these vaccines available quickly.

Travelers wait to pass a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving vacation in Seattle, Washington, United States, November 24, 2021. REUTERS / Lindsey Wasson

Separately, the CDC said all vaccinated Americans aged 18 and over should be given a booster – a stronger recommendation than it issued last week, when the agency extended recall eligibility to all. adults but stopped saying everyone should get them. Read more

A travel ban to the United States went into effect earlier on Monday, preventing most visitors from eight southern African countries from entering the country. Previous flights from South Africa to the United States did not screen passengers after the variant was discovered. Read more

The White House is not holding back Biden’s travel plans or canceling his holiday season, Psaki said.

Biden said travel restrictions were put in place to give the country time to get more people vaccinated.

The reluctance of vaccines in the United States and around the world has thwarted efforts by public health officials to bring the pandemic under control. Only a quarter of South Africa’s population is fully vaccinated, while many Western European countries have vaccinated more than two-thirds of their residents.

Only 59% of all Americans are fully immunized, although almost 70% have now received at least one injection.

Nearly 782,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.

U.S. government employees were due to be vaccinated by Nov. 22, but the White House told federal agencies on Monday they could delay punishment for those who fail to comply.

Much of the United States closed in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic, but economic activity and employment have rebounded in recent months. Face masks and vaccination warrants are opposed by some Republican politicians, even though health experts tout their effectiveness. Read more

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Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Manojna Maddipatla; Written by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Heather Timmons, Lisa Shumaker and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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