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The WHO warns about the Omicron variant, and the CDC expands its booster recommendation.

CDC expands COVID-19 booster recommendation, WHO Omicron warning


Just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning regarding the global risk from the Omicron variant, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded its recommendation regarding COVID-19 booster shots Monday, in order to give more Americans more vaccine protection. The CDC is now saying “everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial Johnson & Johnson vaccine.” The agency had approved boosters for all adults earlier this month, but only recommended them for those 50 years and older or living in long-term care settings.

“The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant.”

The CDC expanding its booster shot recommendation falls in line with remarks President Joe Biden had made earlier in the day Monday. He pushed vaccination and mask wearing as the best way of fighting the Omicron variant. However, he also acknowledged “it’s almost inevitable there will be at some point that that strain here in the United States”.

Biden’s comments, as well as the CDC booster recommendation, may also fall in line with a WHO warning that the Omicron variant could lead to surges with “severe consequences” around the world. The WHO issued a technical paper to its member states Monday. The paper is, so far, WHO’s strongest, most explicit warning about the Omicron variant yet.

“The emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the opening of a special session of the World Health Assembly. “Although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us.”