The United States confirmed its first case of the omicron variant on Wednesday, in a vaccinated traveller returning to California from a trip to South Africa, as scientists around the world race to determine whether the new, mutant version of the coronavirus is more dangerous than the previous versions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, made the announcement at the White House.
‘We knew it was only a matter of time before the first omicron case was discovered in the United States,’ he said.
The infected person was recognised as a traveller who had returned from South Africa on November 22 and had minimal symptoms before testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, collected a sample from the patient on Tuesday evening and worked tirelessly overnight to compile the genetic sequence.
Fauci and other medical professionals underlined the need of continuing to get vaccinated and getting booster shots. The vaccine has been shown to minimise the risk of serious illness and death, and Fauci said that he believed that it would provide protection against the omicron variant.