(LifeSiteNews) — Wednesday saw the first confirmed case of the so-called “omicron” variant B.1.1.529) of COVID-19 to hit the United States in a fully vaccinated Californian traveling home from South Africa.
A press release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) indicates that the unnamed individual experienced “mild symptoms that are improving” and the infection is believed to be contained, with the patient self-quarantining and all close contacts having tested negative.
The press release claims the variant’s emergence “further emphasizes the importance of vaccination” for everyone ages five and up and boosters for everyone 18 and up, but White House COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged in separate remarks that the individual was “fully vaccinated,” though he had not yet gotten a booster.
It is not yet known how long ago the individual was vaccinated; whatever protection the COVID vaccines confer wanes substantially after just six months (or less, depending on the vaccine), driving the government’s push for booster shots.
The omicron variant has been detected in several nations, including Botswana, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Israel, sparking various travel bans, border closures, and new lockdown measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the Omicron variant can spread more quickly than other variants, but some experts believe increased fear is unwarranted.
“The virus is behaving just how viruses behave,” says Dr. Paul Elias Alexander, former Trump administration COVID adviser and assistant professor at McMaster University in evidence-based medicine and research methods. “They are mutable and mutate and, via Muller’s ratchet, we expect this to be milder and milder mutations and not more lethal ones given the pathogen seeks to infect the host and not arrive at an evolutionary dead-end.”
The federal government considers more than 197 million Americans (59% of the eligible) “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19, though the metric is something of a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature and the possibility of changing the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include boosters.
It is unknown how the vaccines will hold up against omicron, but a body of data suggests that the mass vaccination strategy has failed to defeat the COVID strains already in America. In October, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that more Americans died of COVID-19 this year (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000).
“In the USA, a total of 10,262 COVID-19 cases were reported in vaccinated people by April 30, 2021, of whom 2,725 (26.6%) were asymptomatic, 995 (9.7%) were hospitalized, and 160 (1.6%) died,” Dr. Günter Kampf, associate professor for hygiene and environmental medicine at the University Medicine Greifswald, wrote last month, which he suggested may be explainable by the vaccinated population’s misconceptions about the shots’ effectiveness and could lead them to behave less cautiously than they did last year.
The first four cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 identified in Botswana were also among fully vaccinated individuals.
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