U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris (L), speaks about the Omicron variant in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 29 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden said Monday the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a "cause for concern, not a cause for panic" while researchers work to learn more about the quickly spreading strain.
Biden said researchers believe that current vaccines should be adequate against the variant, and he continued to advocate coronavirus vaccinations in a national update about the virus late Monday morning.
"We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, best scientists, and we're learning more every single day, and we'll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion," Biden said in his address.
Biden said the variant's arrival confirms the importance to getting the vaccine and booster shots.
"I know you're tired of hearing me say this. The best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we've been dealing with already, is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot," Biden said.
"[The vaccine is] free and they are available at 80,000 locations coast to coast. Do not wait. Go get your booster if it's time for you to do so."
Biden said if it is learned later that a new booster is needed against the Omicron variant, the United States will be the first to act.
"In the event, hopefully unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool," the president said. "We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed."
He praised South Africa and its researchers for identifying the new variant and quickly alerting health agencies around the world about it.