Politics Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant
Omicron Variant: Germany, Czech Republic Report Suspected Cases After U.K. Confirmation
Several countries, including the U.S., Japan and Israel, have announced travel restrictions to avoid the mass spread of the latest COVID variant.Germany's Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration said Saturday that an individual who traveled to Germany from South Africa is suspected to be infected with the Omicron variant.
The detection of the newly identified omicron COVID-19 variant in multiple U.S. states is expected to dominate this week's Sunday show circuit.
Earlier this week, the United States announced its first confirmed case of the newly detected omicron variant, which scientists and health officials are racing to learn more about. The first case was discovered in a vaccinated San Francisco resident who just returned from South Africa, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The announcement soon kicked off a steady stream of confirmed omicron cases in other states, including in Minnesota, New York and Colorado.
The Latest: Local transmission of virus variant in Scotland
LONDON -- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there is evidence of local transmission of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus after the country reported its first six cases. She told a news conference that not all the cases in Scotland had links to recent travel, adding that this suggests “there might already be some community transmission of this variant in Scotland.” The new cases takes the U.K.’s total to nine after three cases were identified in England over the weekend.The arrival of the variant on British shores prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions on mask-wearing and testing of international arrivals to England.
At least a dozen states confirmed cases of the variant - something that health officials had suspected would be the case given that it had already been reported in other countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom.
"As we all know, when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here," President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci ABC's "This Week," anchor George Stephanopoulos last Sunday.
The World Health Organization the variant, which was first discovered in South Africa last month, as a "variant of concern" due to an increased risk of re-infection and the fact that it has a lot of mutations.
The variant immediately put countries on high alert as some such as the United Kingdom and U.S. decided to implement travel restrictions on certain southern African nations. Israel became the first country to shut down its borders to all international travelers completely.
Biden addresses nation on omicron variant as some travel bans to US take effect
With the omicron variant prompting new travel restrictions this week, President Joe Biden will address the nation on Monday in remarks about the new COVID-19 variant. "While we have said that travel restrictions can slow the speed of omicron, it cannot prevent it. Here's what it does: It gives us time," Biden said in remarks from the White House. "It gives us time to take more actions. To move quicker, to make sure people understand you have to get the vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster.
The travel restrictions have proven controversial among nations and health officials. Some, such as former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, have criticized the move, arguing it is punishing countries for being forthcoming about their research and COVID-19 detections.
However, others, including Fauci, have argued that it is buying nations time to handle a possibly more contagious variant, though he noted the choice to implement travel restrictions was not an easy one.
"We felt - or at least I felt and I know several other members of the team felt - really badly about that because the South Africans have been extremely transparent and collegial in getting information to us," Fauci CNN's Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper during an CNN town hall regarding the Biden administration's decision to institute travel restrictions.
"It was a very difficult choice to make because we had no idea what's going on when you saw what was coming out," he added. "So we felt it was better to be safe than sorry."
How serious is omicron? It will take weeks to understand new COVID-19 variant, experts say.
The new omicron variant presents more questions (and uncertainty) than answers. And it will take a few weeks for data to be collected and tracked.The answer to all three is an unsatisfying “We don’t know yet.
Meanwhile, the FDA is reportedly eyeing steps for an expedited assessment for drugs and vaccines targeting the omicron variant in the event that such steps become necessary, The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Fauci said on Friday that while "we could probably get a good bit of mileage just from boosting with the ancestral strain vaccine that we already have," other contingency plans were being developed between pharmaceutical companies and the administration, too.
Some of those plans entail creating a booster specific to the variant, boosting the current supply of vaccines already available or creating a vaccine that works against a new variant and the ancestral strain.
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins last week, however, that it will take several weeks before scientists better understand how effective the current vaccines are against the omicron variant.
"If you've raised antibodies against [COVID-19] from previously being infected or from being vaccinated, the question is, will those antibodies still stick to this version of the spike protein, or will they evade that protection? We need to find that out, to be honest, though that's gonna take two, three weeks in both laboratory and field studies to figure out the answer," Collins said last weekend during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Hard-Hit Brazil Sees First Cases of Omicron Variant, Pair of Travelers From South Africa
The travelers arrived in Brazil on Nov. 23 and took a PCR test before they planned to return to South Africa two days later, the secretariat statement said.These are the first confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Latin America, in a country with over 600,000 deaths related to COVID reported, a figure that analysts think is below the actual number.
"And that's what all of us as scientists want to know," he added.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is scheduled to appear on ABC's "This Week." Collins is scheduled to appear on NBC's "Meet the Press." Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is scheduled to appear on both CBS' "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday."
Who Discovered the Highly Mutated Omicron Variant, Now Found in More Than a Dozen Countries?
The scientific community has praised the efforts of scientists from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong for their early detection of the variant of concern.In a press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said cases had been confirmed in at least 20 countries and "you're going to expect to see those numbers change rapidly.
Fauci is scheduled to appear on CNN's "State of the Union." Additionally, World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, and Illumina CEO Francis deSouza are both scheduled to appear on "Face the Nation," too.
Below is the full list of guests scheduled to appear on this week's Sunday talk shows:
ABC's "This Week" - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
NBC's "Meet the Press" - Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Sen. Amy Klobuchar( D-Minn.); Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
CBS' "Face the Nation" - Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general; Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.); Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19; Francis deSouza, CEO of the biotechnology company Illumina.
CNN's "State of the Union" - Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.)
"Fox News Sunday" - Murthy; Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operation at U.S. Space Force; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.)
Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" - Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas);
Dr. Ben Carson, Former HUD Secretary & Founder/Chairman, The American Cornerstone Institute; Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Enes Kanter Freedom, Boston Celtics Center
Rhode Island reports first case of omicron variant .
Rhode Island has reported its first case of the omicron variant, making it one of the dozens of states to have detected the new COVID-19 strain. Gov. Dan McKee (D) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the omicron case in a joint statement on Saturday. The infected individual is in their 20s and recently traveled from New York to Providence, according to the statement. The individual was fully vaccinated, but did not have a booster shot. "We fully expected that Omicron would eventually be detected in Rhode Island as it has been in our neighboring states. I want to be clear: Rhode Island is prepared. This is not cause for panic," McKee said. Video: U.K.