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US: CDC hunting for omicron variant in U.S. as cases spread globally

Omicron Variant: Germany, Czech Republic Report Suspected Cases After U.K. Confirmation

  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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention significantly expanded its recommendations for booster shots on Monday, saying that all adults 18 and older should get them, as President Biden called the omicron coronavirus variant a “cause for concern” but “not a cause for panic.” The omicron coronavirus variant has been detected in Canada, the country’ s health minister said Sunday, marking the first identification of the variant in North America as cases continue to emerge around the globe.

The variant , which first emerged in South Africa about a week ago, has more than 30 mutations to the spike protein alone. That' s the key part of the virus that allows it to bind to human cells and infect the body. It also makes scientists worry that it could evade vaccine protection or may be far more infectious than the already highly contagious delta There are several other mutations to the virus that scientists haven't seen before and don't know how they will change how the virus behaves or spreads , he said. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel warned Monday that omicron has already spread across the planet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it has drastically increased its ability to test SARS-CoV-2 virus samples for the omicron variant.

The agency said it's now sequencing about 1 out of every 7 PCR tests positive for Covid-19, which is approximately 80,000 samples per week.

“That’s more than any other country,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid briefing Tuesday. Earlier this year, she said, the CDC was sequencing about 8,000 samples per week.

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By far, the highly contagious delta variant continues to be most dominant, accounting for 99.9 percent of Covid cases in the United States, according to CDC data.

The Latest: Local transmission of virus variant in Scotland

  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.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. The CDC on Monday recommended every US adult over 18 get the Covid booster shot as the media hypes up the new ‘ Omicron ’ variant . How convenient. “The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” she said. BREAKING: CDC strengthens COVID-19 booster shot recommendation to include all adults as new omicron variant spreads .

CDC Scaled Back Hunt for Breakthrough Cases Just as the Delta Variant Grew. The U . S . agency leading the fight against Covid-19 gave up a crucial surveillance tool tracking the effectiveness of vaccines just as a troublesome new variant of the virus was emerging. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped comprehensively tracking what are known as vaccine breakthrough cases in May, the consequences of that choice are only now beginning to show.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes Covid-19. (NIAID-RML) © Provided by NBC News This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes Covid-19. (NIAID-RML)

The omicron variant has not yet been detected in this country, but experts say it's only a matter of time. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that as of Tuesday afternoon, 226 cases had been found in 20 countries, including neighboring Canada.

"It might already be here, certainly not in large amounts, but it may already be here," he told MSNBC's Craig Melvin on Tuesday.

Fauci said that once the variant is detected, the CDC is expected to make an announcement.

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Scotland Officials Concerned Omicron Variant Has Community Spread as 6 Cases Confirmed

  Scotland Officials Concerned Omicron Variant Has Community Spread as 6 Cases Confirmed Countries throughout the world are taking action to prevent a proliferation of the variant as scientists are still working to determine the danger it poses. Some nations like Japan have decided to block any foreign visitors in an effort to stop the highly mutated variant from entering its borders even as cases began popping up around the globe, AP reported.For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.New cases in Portugal and Scotland might already point toward local spread of the variant outside of southern Africa.

The U . S . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) said on Monday everyone aged 18 years and older should get a COVID-19 booster shot, as it looks to tackle a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus that is quickly spreading across the globe. The update comes after President Joe Biden on Monday called for wider vaccination to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant , which was first detected in southern Africa.

(Reuters) - No cases of new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have been identified in the United States to date, the U . S . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant , dubbed Omicron , as being "of concern," the fifth variant to be classified as such. Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases . Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed. NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed.

Many questions about omicron remain: Does it spread faster than delta? Does it cause people to get sicker? How well do the vaccines protect people against the variant?

It will likely be several weeks before scientists can pin down those answers; any guesses before then "remain speculative," Fauci said during the Covid team briefing.

While there is preliminary evidence that omicron’s mutations may render the vaccines less effective, experts say they’re highly unlikely to render them useless.

Indeed, the Biden administration has strengthened its push for a Covid booster shot for all adults.

"Getting boosted will give you the highest level of protection from Covid and this new variant," White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients said during Tuesday's briefing.

Nearly 75 percent of those eligible for Covid vaccines have received at least one dose, according to CDC data. Just under 22 percent eligible for the booster have had the shot.

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Fauci Says COVID Could Be Controlled Not Eliminated With Vaccines Amid Omicron Spread .
"Better control is what I think we need to look for and then we can get back to some form of normality to our lives," Dr. Anthony Fauci said."I don't think there's a chance you're going to eradicate this because we've only eradicated one virus for humans in history and that was smallpox. Elimination is tough," he said on Friday during a TV appearance with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network. "I'm not so sure we're going to be able to do that, at least not in the near future. That's aspirational.

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