First US Omicron Case Reported in San Francisco

A medical worker waits to receive patients at a vaccination site in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in more European countries on Saturday, just days after being identified in South Africa, leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

(CNN) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that the patient diagnosed with the first reported case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the US traveled from South Africa to San Francisco, California, and is experiencing “mild symptoms.”

“The individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive on November 29. The individual is self-quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts, thus far, have tested negative. The individual was fully vaccinated and experienced mild symptoms, which are improving at this point. So this is the first confirmed case of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States,” Fauci said.

The World Health Organization designates Omicron a “variant of concern.” In a technical brief released this week, the WHO noted that the variant poses a “very high” global risk. The variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa, and has since been detected in several countries.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the discovery of the Omicron variant in the United States “is another example of why it’s important for people to get vaccinated who’ve not been vaccinated, but also boosting.”

“Boosting is really very important,” Fauci told reporters during a White House press briefing.

“Our experience with variants such as the Delta variant is that even though the vaccine isn’t specifically targeted to the Delta variant, when you get a high enough level of an immune response, you get spillover protection even against a variant that the vaccine wasn’t specifically directed at. And that’s the reason why we feel, even though we don’t have a lot of data on it, there’s every reason to believe that that kind of increase that you get with the boost would be helpful at least in preventing severe disease of a variant like Omicron,” said Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden.

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