Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said he the extremely contagious omicron variant is likely to infect “just about everybody,” but reiterated the importance of the COVID vaccine booster limiting symptoms, in his latest public address on Tuesday (January 11).
“Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody,” Dr. Fauci told J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, via CNN. “Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.”
Dr. Fauci added that unvaccinated patients were expected to “get the brunt of the severe aspect of this” in contrast to those who are vaccinated.
CNN reports at least one in five eligible Americans — or about 65 million individuals — aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday (January 12).
More than 62% of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated, however, only 23% are fully vaccinated and also received their COVID-19 booster, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data obtained and shared by CNN.
In November, Dr. Fauci predicted the omicron variant — which gets its name from the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet — would “inevitably” reach the United States after initially being detected in Botswana and several other countries.
“We all know when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here,” Dr. Fauci told ABC‘s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos on November 28. “The question is, will we be prepared for it?”
On Tuesday (January 11), the U.S. reached 145,982 hospitalizations, a new record high, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services obtained by CNN.