Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on NBC's "Weekend TODAY" show Saturday, stating he "would not be surprised" if the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is already in the US, predicting it "almost invariably is ultimately going to go, essentially, all over."
"So, in real terms, Dr. Fauci, do you believe that Omicron is already here in the US, likely?" asked co-host Pete Alexander in the on-air interview.
"We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you're already having travel-related cases that they've noted in Israel and Belgium and other places—when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over," Fauci stated.
Fauci also discussed the recent restrictions imposed by the US on travel to and from several nations in the southern part of the African continent.
"The issue of blocking travel from a given country is to just give us time to assess it better. That's the reason for doing that," Fauci replied.
"Not any reason to panic, but we want to give us some time to really fill in the blanks of what we don't know right now," Fauci added.
Fauci then went on to express his hopes that this new COVID-19 variant will motivate more Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"The vaccines that we use may very well be able to contain this, and then [Omicron] won't be as serious as some people are surmising it might be. A lot of unknowns, which is the reason why we're all over this," Fauci said.
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