- NIH head Francis Collins said there’s reason to be “optimistic” that the COVID-19 vaccines would work against Omicron.
- Collins urged people to get inoculated and get their booster shot if they’ve already been vaccinated.
- The Omicron variant Omicron first emerged in South Africa where it has rapidly spread.
There is “reason to be pretty optimistic” that the available COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new Omicron variant of the virus, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said Monday.
“All of the other variants that have emerged during this COVID-19 pandemic have shown response to the vaccine, including Delta,” Collins said on on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Collins urged people to get inoculated and get their booster shot if they’ve already been vaccinated.
“If there’s a message I would like people to hear this morning is get the vaccinations and the boosters,” he said. “This is the best way to protect yourself against Delta, which is still very much with us in the US and Omicron if it comes to the US, which it almost certainly will at some point.”
Collins also said there’s “reason to be optimistic” that COVID-19 antiviral pills — which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration — would work against Omicron.
Omicron, which contains more than 50 mutations, first emerged in South Africa where it has rapidly spread.
“We know that it is spreading quite rapidly in South Africa, so it probably is highly contagious,” Collins said. “We don’t know if it causes severe disease or mild disease — that’s going to take a little while to sort out because it’s still early days.”
Collins said that it will likely be known in roughly to two to three weeks whether the available COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Omicron variant.