President Joe Biden has announced travel will be banned from eight African countries including South Africa starting from Monday in an effort to stop a highly transmissible new variant of COVID that has been given the name Omicron from entering the US.
The countries travel will be banned from are South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
US citizens and green card holders will still be able to travel into the US from the banned countries, but no one else will be allowed.
Biden announced the ban on Friday hours after his top COVID expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in an interview that it was too soon to enact such measures.
The World Health Organization named the new variant on Friday and also officially categorized it as a strain of concern.
Speaking outside the Nantucket Tap Room where he had lunch on Friday afternoon, he told reporters that he’d spoken with his team for half an hour on Friday, and that the ban was the result of that meeting.
‘We don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is a great concern and seems to spread rapidly. I spent about a half hour this morning with my covert team led by Dr. Fauci and so that was the decision we made,’ he said.
The UK had already halted flights as had some European countries but Biden said he waited until the medical experts told him he should impose restrictions.
He also reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and then get booster shots as soon as they can.
‘Every American that has not been vaccinated, should be responsible and be vaccinated from age five years and up, number one. Number two, everyone eligible for the booster shot, should get the booster shot immediately upon being eligible. That is a minimum that everyone should be doing. And you know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom and I think it’s a patriotic responsibility,’ he said.
Forty percent of the US population remains unvaccinated.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have already assured that they will be able to update their vaccine technology to tackle Omicron, should it be necessary.
The panic surrounding the new variant has been sudden and has sent shivers through the stock market; the Dow plummeted by 1,000 points on Friday.
President Biden said the drop was ‘expected’ but that he is not worried about the markets.
Further details on what new restrictions will be imposed on non-US citizens and green card holders are expected to be announced imminently.
President Biden spoke with reporters today outside The Nantucket Tap Room where he said he decided on the ban out of an abundance of caution. He is Nantucket celebrating Thanksgiving with his family
Why is the Botswana variant so scary? Super strain has evolved to have ALL of the worst mutations of Alpha, Beta and Delta combined plus new ones
What is so concerning about the variant?
Experts say it is the ‘worst variant they have ever seen’ and are alarmed by the number of mutations it carries.
The variant — which the World Health Organization has named Omicron — has 32 mutations on the spike protein — the most ever recorded and twice as many as the currently dominant Delta strain.
Experts fear the changes could make the vaccines 40 per cent less effective in a best-case scenario.
This is because so many of the changes on B.1.1.529 are on the virus’s spike protein.
The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike from older versions of the virus.
The Botswana variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body’s immune system struggles to recognise it and fight it off. And three of the spike mutations (H665Y, N679K, P681H) help it enter the body’s cells more easily. Meanwhile, it is missing a membrane protein (NSP6) which was seen in earlier iterations of the virus, which experts think could make it more infectious. And it has two mutations (R203K and G204R) that have been present in all variants of concern so far and have been linked with infectiousness
But because the spike protein looks so different on the new strain, the body’s immune system may struggle to recognise it and fight it off.
It also includes mutations found on the Delta variant that allow it to spread more easily.
Experts warn they won’t know how much more infectious the virus is for at least two weeks and may not know its impact on Covid hospitalisations and deaths for up to six weeks.
What mutations does the variant have?
The Botswana variant has more than 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein.
It carries mutations P681H and N679K which are ‘rarely seen together’ and could make it yet more jab resistant.
These two mutations, along with H655Y, may also make it easier for the virus to sneak into the body’s cells.
And the mutation N501Y may make the strain more transmissible and was previously seen on the Kent ‘Alpha’ variant and Beta among others.
Two other mutations (R203K and G204R) could make the virus more infectious, while a mutation that is missing from this variant (NSP6) could increase its transmissibility.
It also carries mutations K417N and E484A that are similar to those on the South African ‘Beta’ variant that made it better able to dodge vaccines.
But it also has the N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant — which was linked with a surge of cases in the state in March — that has been linked to antibody escape.
Other mutations it has include G446S, T478K, Q493K, G496S, Q498R and Y505H, although their significance is not yet clear.
Is it a variant of concern?
The World Health Organization has classified the virus as a ‘variant of concern’, the label given to the highest-risk strains.
This means WHO experts have concluded its mutations allow it to spread faster, cause more severe illness or hamper the protection from vaccines.
Where has the variant been detected so far?
The variant has so far been spotted in five nations: South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.
Most cases have been spotted in Gauteng, a province in north east South Africa where Johannesburg is based.
The first case was uploaded to international variant database GISAID by Hong Kong and was spotted in someone who travelled to the country from South Africa.
No cases have been seen in the UK. But scientists do not sequence every positive Covid sample in the UK and not everyone who catches the virus will take a test.
This means there could be people infected with the variant in Britain.
What is the UK doing about the variant?
The Health Secretary announced last night six countries would be added to the red list from midday on Friday November 26.
The red-listed countries are: South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This means all direct flights from these countries to the UK are banned.
Anyone arriving in England between midday today and 4am on Sunday from these countries — or who has been in the countries in the 10 previous days — must complete a passenger locator form, quarantine at home and should take a PCR test.
Anyone arriving from these countries after 4am on Sunday must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days and take a Covid test on or before the second day of their stay, as well as another test on or after day eight.
And the UK Health Security Agency classified B.1.1.529 as a Variant Under Investigation, which means it has worrying mutations.
Experts will now conduct a risk assessment and may increase its ranking to Variant of Concern if it is confirmed to be more infectious, cause more severe illness or make vaccines and medicines less effective.
Where did B.1.1.529 first emerge?
The first case was uploaded to international variant database GISAID by Hong Kong on November 23. The person carrying the new variant was travelling to the country from South Africa.
The UK was the first country to identify that the virus could be a threat and alerted other nations.
Since then, 77 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, two in Hong Kong and three in Botswana.
Health chiefs in Israel today announced it had one confirmed and two suspected B.1.1.529 cases, while there are two suspected cases in Belgium.
Experts believe the strain may have originated in Botswana, but continental Africa does not sequence many positive samples, so it may never be known where the variant first emerged.
Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, told MailOnline the virus likely emerged in a lingering infection in an immunocompromised patient, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS.
In patients with weakened immune systems infections can linger for months because the body is unable to fight it off. This gives the virus time to acquire mutations that allow it to get around the body’s defences.
Will I be protected if I have a booster?
Scientists have warned the new strain could make Covid vaccines 40 per cent less effective.
But they said emergence of the mutant variant makes it even more important to get a booster jab the minute people become eligible for one.
The vaccines trigger neutralising antibodies, which is the best protection available against the new variant. So the more of these antibodies a person has the better, experts said.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The booster jab was already important before we knew about this variant – but now, it could not be more important.’
When will we know more about the variant?
Data on how transmissible the new variant is and its effect on hospitalisations and deaths is still weeks away.
The UK has offered help to South Africa, where most of the cases are concentrated, to gather this information and believe they will know more about transmissibility in two to three weeks.
But it may be four to six weeks until they know more about hospitalisations and deaths.
What is the variant called?
The strain was scientifically named as B.1.1.529 on November 24, one day after it was spotted in Hong Kong.
The variants given an official name so far include Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma.
Experts at the World Health Organization on November 26 named the variant Omicron.
The administration is in contact with African officials to keep an eye on the situation.
‘We are in close contact with the Southern African public health officials and working closely with them to understand more,’ the senior administration official added.
Dr Anthony Fauci said on Friday there is not enough evidence about the South African variant to halt flights to the US despite the UK, Israel and Germany all suspending travel because of it
It comes amid fears of the newly-emerged COVID variant, which scientists fear could be the most infectious strain of the virus to date.
Earlier this morning, White House COVID tsar Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN that the US will had no immediate plans to restrict travel from South Africa, where a new ‘super mutant’ variant of COVID-19 is panicking scientists, until officials can study the variant more, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday despite the UK and some European countries banning travel.
The World Health Organization has named the new variant Omicron.
It remains unclear exactly how deadly it is among unvaccinated people, and American health agencies are yet to make any form of warning about it but there are fears it is more transmissible than any other variant yet and that it may also render some vaccines ineffective.
FULL BIDEN OMICRON STATEMENT
This morning I was briefed by my chief medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci, and the members of our COVID response team, about the Omicron variant, which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.
For now, I have two important messages for the American people, and one for the world community.
First, for those Americans who are fully vaccinated against severe COVID illness – fortunately, for the vast majority of our adults — the best way to strengthen your protection is to get a booster shot, as soon as you are eligible. Boosters are approved for all adults over 18, six months past their vaccination and are available at 80,000 locations coast-to-coast. They are safe, free, and convenient. Get your booster shot now, so you can have this additional protection during the holiday season.
Second, for those not yet fully vaccinated: get vaccinated today. This includes both children and adults. America is leading the world in vaccinating children ages 5-11, and has been vaccinating teens for many months now – but we need more Americans in all age groups to get this life-saving protection. If you have not gotten vaccinated, or have not taken your children to get vaccinated, now is the time.
Finally, for the world community: the news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined. It is time for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity.
In addition, I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally. I endorsed this position in April; this news today reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly.
South African health officials are trying to calm other countries and have called the sudden panic a ‘storm in a teacup’.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have said they can quickly update their vaccines if they need to to take the new variant on.
‘It seems to be spreading at a reasonably rapid rate. We’re finding more about it,’ he said.
He added that there is ‘no indication’ the mutation is in the US, but that it is possible.
‘When you look at a mutation it can give you a hint or prediction that it might evade the immune response you need to get that sequence of the virus, put it in the lab and test the antibodies.
‘Right now, we’re getting the material together to get a situation where you can directly test it.
‘Right now it’s a red flag that it might be an issue but you don’t know.
‘Once you test it you know for sure whether it does or does not evade the antibodies for example that we make for a vaccine.
‘The answer is we don’t know right now but we’re going to find out for sure.’
The variant, though still largely a mystery to scientists, has already sent shivers through the US markets.
Dow futures fell 2.25 percent, and both the NASDAQ and S&P Futures Indices were down by more than 1 percent.
The price of Brent Crude, the market of the global price of oil, fell by six percent.
The variant, B.1.1.529, is believed to have emerged in Botswana – from where there are no direct flights to the U.S. – and is also being found in neighboring South Africa.
Hong Kong reported a case after a passenger who had recently traveled from South Africa was found to be infected with the variant, and then infected another person while in the same hotel, quarantining.
Israel has also identified a case ‘in a person who returned from Malawi,’ with ‘two more cases of people returning from abroad’ placed in quarantine, the country’s health ministry said Friday.
Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said initial data from the variant was worrying and border restrictions should be imposed.
‘Looks like vaccine evasion could be real with this variant,’ he tweeted, pointing out that the two patients in Hong Kong who had the variant were both doubled-jabbed with the Pfizer vaccine.
One of the two had recently been in Southern Africa. That person then passed it on to a second person, quarantining in the same hotel.
The only direct flight from South Africa to America is scheduled to land at Newark tomorrow. There were none today but United operates a nightly flight ordinarily from Johannesburg to Newark, with around 250 people on board. There are other flights that will land in the US having originated in South Africa, but that have gone through Doha first. Some that were scheduled to stop in Europe have been canceled
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today called for all flights to be halted until more is known about the variant.
The Dow tumbled on Friday morning as did the Nasdaq and the price of Brent Crude – the global marker for oil- also sank while Europe and the UK panicked over the new strain. The Dow sank more than 1000 points on Friday
WHO calls new Covid strain Omicron: UN health chiefs label super-mutant a ‘variant of concern’ with increased risk of reinfection that could spread more rapidly than Delta
The World Health Organisation has named the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19 Omicron and labelled it a ‘variant of concern’.
UN health chiefs warned that preliminary evidence suggests the strain has an increased risk of reinfection and could spread more rapidly than the Delta variant.
‘Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology… the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, named Omicron,’ the UN health agency said in a statement.
The Omicron variant has more than 30 mutations — the most ever recorded in a variant and twice as many as Delta — meaning it could be more jab-resistant and transmissible that any version before it.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there is ‘huge international concern’ surrounding the strain after banning flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia to limit its spread.
He told MPs there are concerns the variant may be more transmissible, make vaccines less effective and may affect one of the UK’s Covid treatments, Ronapreve.
Belgium today revealed a case of the Omicron variant, sparking fears of a new Christmas shutdown and prompting EU chiefs to call for an ’emergency brake’ on all travel from southern Africa after it was also found in Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
The Belgian health ministry said a case of the new Omicron strain was confirmed in an unvaccinated young woman who had returned from Egypt 11 days ago, suggesting it is already being seeded across the continent and is widespread in Africa.
‘It’s very airborne,’ Feigl-Ding said. ‘The hotel guests were in different room across the hallway from each other. Environmental samples found the virus in 25 of 87 swabs across both rooms.’
He added: ‘I think border and travel restrictions make sense. Especially since Hong Kong only caught the case because of a mandatory hotel quarantine. Which countries in the west still have that??? Almost none.’
Botswana has four confirmed cases, South Africa 77 – with the real figure likely in the hundreds – and Hong Kong has two, meaning 83 cases of the variant are confirmed so far.
But South African scientists tried to backpedal today saying it was ‘likely’ that vaccines still offered ‘high levels of protection’ against hospitalisations and deaths from the variant.
As of 5:00 a.m. EST, the CDC website’s travel advice page for South Africa had the country listed as ‘Level 1: Low Level of COVID-19’, with flights to the US permitted from the African country since November 8.
The levels range from Level unknown, Level 1: Low, Level 2: Moderate, Level 3: High and Level 4: Very High.
The CDC page asks anyone travelling to and from South Africa to be fully vaccinated, or for those who are not to be tested for Covid. It also recommends travelers follow measures in-place in South Africa, including wearing a mask and social distancing.
South Africa’s infection rate spiked 93 per cent in a day yesterday amid fears the strain is driving the surge. Local scientists say it has likely spread to all the country’s nine provinces, but there is yet to be a surge in hospitalizations in epicenter Johannesburg.
From discovery to global panic in 48 hours: How South African scientists’ warnings about soaring cases of Covid super-mutant variant sparked frantic cabinet meeting and worldwide travel ban
Omicron variant timeline
- Monday, 22 November: Variant found in Hong Kong, Botswana and South Africa
- Tuesday, 23 November: UK scientist sounds the alarm about ‘horrific’ 32 mutations
- Wednesday, 24 November: Downing Street claims strain is not an ‘issue’ but ministers meet behind the scenes
- Thursday, 25 November: Cases soar in South Africa and Britain issue flight ban
- Friday, 26 November: Strain found in Belgium and countries across world close borders.
- UK, Europe and America all close themselves off to South Africa and a handful of other African countries
The world shut itself off from Southern Africa today in response to a super mutant variant that was unheard of just days ago.
B.1.1.529 — which has now been named Omicron— was first picked up in Hong Kong on Monday in a patient who had travelled from South Africa.
It did not catch international attention until Wednesday after a British scientists mentioned its 32 ‘horrific’ mutations on social media after cases were picked up in Botswana and South Africa as well.
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the variant was not an ‘issue’ on Wednesday afternoon despite UK experts warning it had a horrific set of mutations that could allow it to dodge vaccines.
By Thursday the South African Government was forced to warn the world about the strain at a sombre press conference, admitting it had triggered an ‘exponential’ rise in Gauteng province and was likely in every corner of the country, outpacing Delta at ferocious speed.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said it was monitoring the situation closely but that it did not pose a threat to the UK at the time. Chris Whitty and other prominent experts warned of a potential global outbreak that could undermine the UK’s vaccine program.
Journalists were briefed on Thursday night by senior scientists at a hastily organized briefing where they were told the variant was at least 40 per cent more vaccine evasive than Delta.
The media was told the strain was the worst seen ‘ever’ and that the variant could be at least 40 per cent more vaccine evasive.
At the same time, an emergency Covid committee cabinet meeting convened to discuss Britain’s next steps to deal with the variant.
What do we know about the Omicron variant?
Scientists have said they are concerned about the B.1.1.529 variant, named by the World Health Organisation as Omicron, as it has around 30 different mutations – double the amount present in the Delta variant. The mutations contain features seen in all of the other variants but also traits that have not been seen before.
UK scientists first became aware of the new strain on November 23 after samples were uploaded on to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana.
On Friday, it was confirmed that cases had been identified in Israel and Belgium but currently there are no known cases in the UK.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain on Friday that sequencing is being carried out around the UK to determine if any cases have already been imported.
Work is also under way to see whether the new variant may be causing new infection in people who have already had coronavirus or a vaccine, or whether waning immunity may be playing a role.
Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, has said the new variant will ‘almost certainly’ make vaccines less effective, though they would still offer protection.
Pfizer/BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine against Covid-19, is already studying the new variant’s ability to evade vaccines.
It prompted a rapid announcement from Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night that there would be a travel ban on six African countries in the south of the continent.
And scientists hit the airwaves this morning to warn of the potential return of draconian Covid restrictions this winter because of the strain.
New cases were picked up in Israel and then Belgium and European countries began shutting off their borders to people coming in from South Africa, with passengers unable to leave a plane in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Here DailyMail.com reviews how the Botswana variant inspired global pandemic within the space of 48 hours…
Monday and Tuesday
Researchers in Hong Kong were the first to raise the alarm about the new strain on Monday after discovering the strain in two passengers who had recently returned from South Africa.
It was also picked up in Botswana, where it was sequenced three times, and South Africa — who had only seen one case at the time.
Scientists from all three countries uploaded it to an international database of variants used by experts from across the world, including the UK.
Dr Tom Peacock, a British virologist at Imperial College London who works with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), voiced concern about the strain’s 32 ‘horrific’ mutations — twice as many as Delta — on Tuesday.
Writing on social media, Dr Peacock said: ‘Just spotted: Very small cluster of variant associated with Southern Africa with very long branch length and really awful Spike mutation profile.
MailOnline broke the news about the variant on Wednesday, before No10’s official spokesperson shrugged it off as ‘not seen as something that is an issue’ despite experts’ fears that it would be more vaccine evasive than Delta.
Some scientists dismissed fears, saying the strain’s large amount of mutations meant it could become unstable — meaning it would be unlikely to become widespread.
But others warned if it started taking over the dominant Delta variant in South Africa it could have knock-on effects for the rest of the world.
Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, said it likely emerged in a lingering infection in an immunocompromised patient, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS.
He said it was likely the variant would be much more able to dodge antibodies than Delta.
Professor Balloux told MailOnline: ‘For the time being, it should be closely monitored. But there’s no need to be overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency.’
Behind the scenes, MailOnline understands there were ‘extensive talks’ between British Government scientists and those in South Africa on Wednesday and Thursday.
Cases began to grow exponentially in the Gauteng Province – which surrounds the capital, Pretoria, and the biggest city, Johannesburg – in South Africa on Thursday, with a particular spike in Johannesburg, where they shot up 93 per cent in a single day.
The South African Government held a press conference on the same day, saying that they are ‘concerned by the jump in evolution in this variant’.
British ministers were called to an emergency meeting of the Covid Operations Cabinet Committee on Thursday, chaired by Cabinet Office minister Steven Barclay, to discuss shutting Britain’s borders to travellers from Africa.
They were told vaccines would be at least 40 per cent less effective against the variant — because of a mutation it shares with the original South African Beta variant — at the meeting.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid attended the meeting but Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the housing minister, were not part of discussions.
It was set up due to concerns raised by England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and UKHSA boss Dr Jenny Harries.
A Government source said: ‘Whitty and the experts said we needed to act. They wanted to get it out as soon as possible.’
Insiders stressed they were acting out of an ‘abundance of caution’. The issue only came on the radar at No10 on Wednesday. ‘We have moved more quickly than with previous decisions,’ one source said.
Later, senior UK Government scientists briefed the media at a hastily organised press conference last night at 7.45pm.
One senior UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) expert said: ‘This is the worst variant we have seen so far.’
Experts from the UKHSA have been advising ministers on the issue, with a number of scientists expressing serious concern over the variant due to the significant number of mutations in the spike protein.
One senior scientist said: ‘One of our major worries is this virus spike protein is so dramatically different to the virus spike that was in the original Wuhan strain, and therefore in our vaccines, that it has a great cause of concern.’
Sajid Javid released a video on Twitter on Thursday night at around 8.50pm announcing the Government was banning all flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
Scientists hit the airwaves this morning to warn Britain may have to accept the reintroduction of draconian lockdown restrictions this Christmas as a result of the warning.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), earlier raised the prospect of lockdown curbs being reintroduced, warning that people must be braced for a ‘change in restrictions’ if the variant spreads to the UK.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser of the UK’s Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), warned it was ‘possible’ the strain has already entered Britain.
She said ‘people are arriving every day’ to the UK from Belgium, South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel where the variant has been officially detected.
Belgium’s health ministry said a case was spotted in an unvaccinated young woman who got tested after suffering symptoms. She had returned from Egypt 11 days ago.
Israel has also detected a case in a vaccinated individual, meaning it has now been confirmed in three continents. The Israeli had returned from Malawi. Two other suspected cases are being investigated.
Passengers flying to Holland from South Africa were banned from getting off the plane as the continent tightened its borders in an attempt to shut out the strain.
Flights in and out of Britain from the six African countries were supposed to be scrapped at midday today, despite No10 scrapping the no-fly travel ‘red list’ just weeks ago.
Yet, British arrivals from the variant’s epicentre Johannesburg were left to mingle with hundreds of others as they flew into Heathrow on the last flights out of Africa before the red list was re-imposed at midday. Passengers revealed they were not tested or questioned about their travel history.
Those coming from variant epicentre Johannesburg said they faced ‘no additional precautions’. Others told how they were getting around the ban by flying to other countries and then to the UK.
Ursula von der Leyen called for the EU to pull the ’emergency brake’ on travel from southern Africa on the back of the announcement, warning that the strain could be world-dominant in months.
The EU Commission president said: ‘All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clearer understanding about the danger posed by this new variant. It is now important that all of us in Europe act very swiftly, decisively and united.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an appearance on CNN that it was too soon to panic about the variant because not enough was known. He was overruled within hours.