US President Joe delivered an address Monday on the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus which was discovered last week.
"When I was elected I said I would always be honest with you. So today I want to take a few moments to talk about the new COVID variant first identified last week in southern Africa. It's called the Omicron," Biden began.
"To their credit, the scientific community in South Africa quickly notified the world of the emergence of this new variant. This kind of transparency is to be encouraged and applauded, because it increases our ability to respond quickly to any new threats. And that's exactly what we did," he said.
"The very day the World Health Organization identified the new variant, I took immediate steps to restrict travel from countries in southern Africa. But while travel restrictions can slow the speed of Omicron, it cannot prevent it. But here's what it does. It gives us time to take more actions, to move quicker, to make sure people understand: you have to get your vaccine.
"You have to get your booster," he added. "Sooner or later, we're going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States. We'll have to face this new threat, just as we've faced those that have come before it."
"Today, there are three messages about the new variant that I want the American people to hear. First, this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we're learning more every single day. And we'll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion. We have more tools today to fight the variant than we've ever had before.
"Second, the best protection against this new variant or any variant, is getting fully vaccinated and getting the booster shot. Most Americans are fully vaccinated, but not yet boosted. If you are 18 years or over and got fully vaccinated before June 1, go get the booster shot today. They're free, and they're available at 80,000 locations coast to coast. A fully vaccinated-boosted person is the most protection against COVID.
"Third, in the event, highly unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool. I want to reiterate: Dr. Fauci believes that the current vaccines provide at least some protection against this new variant, and the boosters strengthen that protection significantly. We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed. But, so that we are prepared if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed. And I will also direct the FDA and the CDC to use the fastest process available, without cutting any corners for safety, to get such vaccines approved and on the market if needed," the president said.