Fauci says US on 'high alert' for Omicron, urges people to get vaccinated

Senior government scientist Anthony Fauci also encouraged people to get coronavirus vaccines or boosters quickly, rather than waiting for pharmaceutical companies to tailor doses specifically to the Omicron variant.

FILE: Senior US government scientist Anthony Fauci. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - Senior government scientist Anthony Fauci said on Monday the United States was on "high alert" for the new COVID-19 variant and urged people to get vaccinated after Canada confirmed its first cases of the new strain.

"No confirmed cases (of Omicron) but obviously we're on high alert," Fauci said on ABC's Good Morning America.

Fauci also encouraged people to get coronavirus vaccines or boosters quickly, rather than waiting for pharmaceutical companies to tailor doses specifically to the Omicron variant.

"A variant like this, although there's a lot we don't know about it, one thing we do know is that vaccinated people do much, much better than unvaccinated people, and particularly when you boost someone," he said.

"When you get vaccinated and boosted and your level (of antibodies) goes way up, you're going to have some degree of protection, at least against severe disease," Fauci said.