On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first case of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in California, according to multiple sources.
The CDC said that the California Department of Public Health and the San Francisco Department of Public Health confirmed the case in a traveler who returned from South Africa on November 22.
The individual, an adult under age 50, developed symptoms a few days after arriving in the U.S. and got tested on November 28, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom. And the test came back positive for COVID on November 29.
The CDC said in a statement, “The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive.”
People who were in close contact with the person have been undergoing COVID tests and no one has tested positive so far.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary, California Health and Human Services Agency, said the fact that the person had only mild symptoms – thanks to vaccinations. He said, “Vaccinations do a really important thing: protect against severe disease, against hospitalization and death.”
Dr. Grant Colfax of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said the individual had received two doses of the Moderna vaccine but had not received a booster shot, according to NBC News.
This is another example of the importance of vaccination as well as the boosters, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
At a White House news conference, Dr. Fauci said even though the current vaccines do not target variants such as delta or omicron, “you get spillover protection even against a variant that the vaccine wasn’t specifically directed at.”
He recommended, “If you’re eligible for boosting, get boosted right now.”
Newsom explained the individual affected by the omicron variant had received the COVID vaccine within the last six months, so was not yet eligible for a booster dose.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the global risk of the omicron variant is “very high.”
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we’re done with COVID-19, it’s not done with us.”
Today, President Joe Biden is scheduled to update the country on his plan to combat the pandemic through the winter.
Dr. Fauci said, “Anybody and everybody who’s coming into the country needs to get a test within 24 hours of getting on the plane to come here.”