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Fauci: No need for new vaccine to tackle Omicron

Fauci: No need for new vaccine to tackle Omicron
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, responds in a news conference at the White House on April 13. Fauci said Wednesday vaccine booster shots work to neutralize the Omicron variant. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that there is no need at this time for a vaccine to specifically attack the Omicron variant of COVID-19 because of the effectiveness of booster shots.

Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, made the comments during the daily White House COVID-19 Response Team press briefing.

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During the briefing, Fauci cited several studies on the Omicron variant showing how a booster shot with the current vaccines dramatically improved protection against the new, more transmissible variant that is spreading across the country.

"Our booster vaccine regimens work against Omicron," Fauci said. "At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster. The message remains clear: If you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated. Particularly in the arena of Omicron, if you are fully vaccinated, get your booster shot."

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are currently more than 200 million people in the United States who are fully vaccinated and 55 million who have received their booster shots.

"It's important to remember that we have far more tools to fight this virus than we ever did just one year ago," Walensky said.

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She pointed out the need for booster shots with the growing threat of the Omicron variant. Walensky said the strain has now spread to 36 states. She said while the variant makes up 3% of all coronavirus cases in the United States, there's evidence that the number will grow quickly in the future.

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She pointed to New York and New Jersey, where Omicron is already making up 13% of all coronavirus cases.

"We expect to see [the growth in Omicron cases] continue to grow in the coming weeks," Walensky said.

She said among those unvaccinated in nursing homes, COVID-19 cases have increased from 3.4 per 1,000 to 8.8 per 1,000. She said those in nursing homes who have received a booster shot have coronavirus rates 10 times lower than those who are unvaccinated.

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