President Joe Biden has also released a statement on the omicron variant, which includes urging Americans to get vaccinated and touting his administration’s donation of vaccines to other countries.
The statement reads as follows:
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.
In reaction to a Friday announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) that there is a new coronavirus “variant of concern,” known as “omicron,” the Biden administration has made an announcement of its own. As Peter Aitken reported for Fox News, the U.S. will restrict travel from eight African countries starting on Monday.
According to Aitken:
The United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday over concerns of a “heavily mutated” COVID-19 variant, senior administration officials said.
The Biden administration will follow advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and restrict travel from several African nations following the identification of variant B.1.1.529, which appears to be highly contagious among young people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identified the variant as a “variant of concern” that officials first noted in South Africa.
The variant, which was first identified in South Africa, has also been identified in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
Other countries will put into place travel restrictions as well.
A pinned tweet from the Who notes that a technical advising group met on Friday to advise that omicron be designated as a “variant of concern.”
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.
They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.
WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://t.co/bSbVas9yds pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 26, 2021
It’s worth reminding that when then President Donald Trump restricted travel from China in response to the Wuhan coronavirus, Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then candidate Joe Biden regarded the move as racist and xenophobic, with Biden claiming Trump had “a record of… hysterical xenophobia.” Speaker Pelosi later changed her tune, as did Biden.
Jen Psaki told Peter Doocy that Biden calling President Trump’s travel restrictions xenophobic “wasn’t a fair articulation” pic.twitter.com/40qes9VxJP
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 25, 2021
Once Biden took office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did a particularly poor job of spinning the president’s claims. The Biden administration also reinstated travel bans.