Johnson and Biden's speech blunders slammed by host
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Joe Biden, 79, confirmed the US is working with vaccine makers to develop contingency plans if needed to handle omicron. The 46th president said: “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”
“If people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there’s no need for lockdowns.”
Mr Biden said “sooner or later” the new variant will be seen in the country and he encouraged Americans to wear masks in public settings.
A US ban took effect earlier on Monday that blocked most travelers from eight Southern African nations from entering the country.
Biden added that the travel restrictions in place gave them time to get more people vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said they were unlikely to impose further restrictions.
In the UK, Boris Johnson introduced measures to self-isolate after arriving from abroad and to wear face masks in shops and public transport.
The rollout of Covid booster vaccines has been accelerated and all adults will now be eligible for an additional jab.
The waiting time after the second dose has been reduced from six months to three after the Government’s science advisers agreed to the change.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the booster campaign was now “as urgent as it could possibly be”.
Data is yet to emerge on how efficacious the current coronavirus vaccines will prove against the new variant.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), explained: “Vaccines used in the UK and globally have been designed against the wild type [of coronavirus] and not engineered towards the new variants.”
As he pointed out, the larger the “mismatch” between the vaccines and new variants increases the likelihood of immune escape.
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However, the booster shots supercharge the immune response so offer the best weapon against new variants, studies have shown.
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