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The Omicron variant can “evade immune protection,” Fauci says. Covid news.

The omicron mutation of the coronavirus “strongly suggests” that it is easily transmitted and could escape the immune protections acquired by previous infections and even by vaccination, warned Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday.

“It’s not necessarily that it’s going to happen, but it’s a strong indication that we really need to prepare for it,” Fauci said on “Meet the Press,” adding that omicron “has just kind of exploded. ” in South Africa.

Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, praised the efforts of South African public health officials, who he said were completely transparent from the start. US officials received real-time information last week and continue to receive updates, he said.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, told Fox News on Sunday that it would take two or three weeks to find out whether antibodies from vaccines or previous infections will be effective against omicron.

“We expect that current vaccines are most likely sufficient to provide protection,” Collins said. “And most importantly the boosters will give that extra layer of protection.”

Collins and Fauci both said the disturbing emergence of omicron was another reason for Americans to get vaccinated and get booster shots.

“Whether or not we are heading into a gloomy or darker winter will really depend on what we do,” Fauci said. “So it’s a bugle call for me to say let’s put all these differences aside that we have and say, ‘if you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, get a boost, and get the children vaccinated too. Now we have the time. “

Also in the news:

►Ten tweens from across New York State won the first round of college scholarships in the state’s “Immunize, Educate, Graduate” competition for ages 5-11 who get their COVID vaccine -19, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday.

►Dallas Cowboys are going virtual with meetings leading up to Thursday’s game in New Orleans due to an increase in infections within the squad. Right tackle Terence Steele was part of the positive COVID-19 tests and will not play against the Saints, coach Mike McCarthy said on Sunday.

►At least 161 Colorado businesses and individuals who owed millions in back taxes were still eligible for federal pandemic relief loans, a KUSA-TV investigation found. “Essentially, they’re taking taxpayer dollars without contributing to the system,” said Tim Stretton, director of Project On Government Oversight.

►Swiss voters appeared ready on Sunday to approve legislation for a special certificate allowing only people who have been vaccinated, cured or tested negative to attend public events and rallies.

The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 48.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 776,500 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 261.2 million cases and nearly 5.2 million deaths. More than 196.1 million Americans – about 59.1% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

What we read: The message from the Arizona governor’s office was emphatic earlier this year: More than 2,000 voucher requests to take students out of schools with COVID-19 restrictions was clear proof Arizona families wanted the choice from school. The reality is quite different.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Just as travel approaches normal, omicron could fuel bans

Air travel is approaching pre-pandemic levels, the United States has just reopened to international tourists, and summer vacations in Europe are expected to skyrocket in 2022. Then, in recent days, the variant emerges. omicron instantly triggered travel restrictions in some countries. . The United States, which on November 8 lifted a travel ban during a pandemic to dozens of international countries, including South Africa, will reinstate the ban on Monday for foreign nationals of eight African countries.

The CDC has issued a Level 4 advisory, the highest, due to the “very high” levels of COVID, which carry the designation “avoid travel.” The State Department, whose COVID advisories generally parallel those of the CDC, also raised countries to Level 4, which means “do not travel.”

“Amid this rapidly evolving situation, it is essential that the decisions of the US government regarding international travel restrictions and requirements are grounded in science,” said Carter Yang, spokesperson for the airline lobby group. Airlines for America.

Dawn Gilbertson

Netherlands and Australia report cases of omicron variant

The Netherlands confirmed 13 cases of the novel omicron variant of the coronavirus on Sunday and Australia found two, as countries halfway around the world became the last to detect it in travelers arriving from southern Africa . Israel has barred foreigners from entering and Morocco has said it will suspend all inbound air travel for two weeks from Monday – the most drastic in a growing series of travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world as that they scramble to slow the spread of the variant.

“Restricting the country’s borders is not an easy step, but it is a temporary and necessary step,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

Confirmed or suspected cases of the new variant have already appeared in several European countries, in Israel and in Hong Kong, a few days after its identification by South African researchers.

New York declares state of emergency in full swing, new variant

Governor Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency in New York City amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and the looming threat of the omicron variant. Hochul’s move comes as hospitals once again warn of being overrun with COVID-19 patients and the state’s positivity reached 3.8% on Thursday, the highest since mid-April. In some areas, the rates were even higher: nearly 10% in western New York and almost 9% in the Finger Lakes.

Hochul said the omicron variant that has fueled fears of further spread across the world has yet to be found in New York City, or anywhere in the United States, but warned it is likely to arrive. By declaring a state of emergency, the state health ministry will be authorized to limit non-essential and non-emergency procedures for hospitals or systems “with limited capacity to protect access to essential health services. “.

– Joseph Spector, New York State Team

Contribution: The Associated Press