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Fauci says Omicron’s early lack of severity 'a bit encouraging'

Dr. Anthony Fauci was hesitant to be too optimistic but said, "signals are a bit encouraging."

Published: December 5, 2021 10:47pm

Updated: December 5, 2021 11:09pm

President Biden's chief medical advisor said Sunday that the symptoms of the newest COVID-19 variant omicron are "a bit encouraging."

"Clearly in South Africa, omicron has a transmission advantage," Dr. Anthony Fauci told Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union, attributing a spike in South Africa's COVID cases to the new variant.

"Thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it, but we've really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to delta," the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said. 

Right now, "the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity, but again, gotta hold judgment until we get more experience," he explained.

Fauci then took the opportunity to push COVID-19 boosters to fight the spread of omicron, saying that the extra vaccine would be "really critical in addressing whether or not we will be able to handle this."

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed on Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration is "already in conversations about streamlining the authorization" of an omicron-specific vaccine.

A South African doctor who helped discover the new variant described omicron's symptoms as "extremely mild” last week.

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