Biden warns Omicron variant will ‘spread much more rapidly’

The US president predicts "a winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated.

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US President Joe Biden. — AFP
US President Joe Biden. — AFP

Published: Fri 17 Dec 2021, 2:59 AM

US President Joe Biden warned on Thursday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will “start to spread much more rapidly” in the United States and he urged Americans to get vaccinated or boosted.

“The only real protection is to get your shot,” he said, predicting “a winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated.

Biden brought reporters in at the end of a meeting on the pandemic to send a message directly to Americans, he said.

He stressed the importance of vaccinated people getting a booster and of those who have yet to be vaccinated receiving their first shot.


Shortly before, deputy White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre had suggested the administration did not intend to take specific restrictive measures for the moment and to focus instead on vaccination.

“The tools that we have, we know are working,” she said. “We’re just going to continue pushing forward... to get Americans vaccinated and boosted.”

Health ministers from the G7 on Thursday called for international cooperation in the face of the Omicron strain, which they called the “biggest current threat to global public health”.

The outbreak linked to the new variant has spread globally, and more European nations are implementing travel restrictions.

The United States, the hardest-hit country in the world, is currently averaging 1,150 Covid-19 deaths per day, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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