President Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to get vaccinated or get their booster shots amid warnings about the spread of the Omicron variant – but warned that the infectious new variant was not a cause for ‘panic.’ 

Biden declared, “We’ll defeat this variant with scientifically-informed actions and speed. We won’t be distracted by chaos or confusion.

Despite the obvious warnings, Biden still misidentified the type of variant. ‘It’s called the Omnicron,’ he said, inserting an extra ‘n’ – an error his coronavirus advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was standing in the background, also committed. 

American citizens were told by him: “You must get your vaccination. The shot must be taken. You have to get the booster,’ Biden said, speaking to the nation from the White House Roosevelt Room, which is now features a fireplace mantle decked out with holiday decorations.

‘Sooner or later we’re going to see new cases of this variant here in the United States,’ Biden predicted, a day after it had been identified in Canada.

He cautioned, however, that ‘this variant is cause for concern but not panic’ and stated that no further measures are currently required.

Asked if lockdowns were off the table, Biden responded: ‘Yes, for now … If people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there’s no need for lockdowns.’

President Joe Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated and get booster shots to combat the new Omicron variant

American President Joe Biden encouraged Americans to be vaccinated against the Omicron variant and to receive booster shots.

Biden asked Americans if they would like to wear masks, get vaccinated or get boosted and stated that it was a’sparing effort’. 

‘We’re going to fight and beat this new variant as well,’ he said.

He begged the non-vaccinated to get a shot. 

Biden explained that getting fully vaccinated was the best defense against any new virus or other variants. 

Biden indicated that they don’t believe any additional measures are necessary. But he said his team was already in touch with people from drug makers Pfzizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson ‘to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.’

Fauci and Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, wore masks when they stood beside the president.  

He added, “As extra protection, please use your masks indoors when you are in public places with other people.” 

Biden was pictured shopping at Murray’s Toggery Shop in Nantucket without his mask on, despite the island’s mask requirement for indoor facilities.  

Biden also acknowledged South African officials’ reporting of the latest variant. But, the U.S. traveled ban was meant to “buy time” to allow more people to be vaccinated. South Af

Biden doesn’t want to impose new travel restrictions after seven South African countries were closed by the U.S. following preliminary reports from South Africa. They will take effect on Monday.

The president also urged 'everyone' to wear a mask in indoor settings, except when eating or drinking 'or speaking in a microphone' – as he was doing without a mask during his remarks, where he was backed by Dr. Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris – who were each masked

The president also urged ‘everyone’ to wear a mask in indoor settings, except when eating or drinking ‘or speaking in a microphone’ – as he was doing without a mask during his remarks, where he was backed by Dr. Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris – who were each masked

The president fielded a few questions after his remarks, where he called the new variant 'Omnicron,' adding an 'n'

Following his remarks, the president took a few more questions. In that case, he called it ‘Omnicron’, adding an ‘n.

He also urged ‘everyone’ to wear a mask in indoor settings, except when eating or drinking ‘or speaking in a microphone’ – as he was doing without a mask. 

In addition to defending the new travel ban, Biden defended the nation’s effort to pump out millions of vaccines for the world – a humanitarian effort that should also stem the creation of new variants.   

‘We can’t let up until the world is vaccinated,’ Biden said.

‘We’re throwing everything we can at this virus, tracking it from every angle.’

He claimed that none of the vaccines being shipped to America ‘will ever be at American expense’, and vowed: ‘I’ll always make sure that our people’s safety is my top priority.  

He spoke amid warnings – but also uncertainty – about whether the highly transmissible new variant could reshape or prolong the battle against the COVID-19.

Canada’s Health Minister said Sunday that the variant had been found. 

This was his first full speech devoted entirely to coronavirus issues since Nov. 3. He has been dealing with many challenges, including supply chain and inflation, the implementation of the new law on infrastructure, and trying get Congress to pass his social policy agenda. 

In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Dr. Anthony Fauci called speculation about the new coronavirus variant premature.

Fauci stated that he didn’t really know what he was talking about. Fauci stated, “We ought to be concerned and our concern should drive us to do what we know works.”

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told MSNBC there are important differences between South Africa, where Omicron was identified, and the U.S. – which already has seen a proliferation of the Delta variant.

 ‘It was all on its own,’ Collins said of the South African landscape, where covid infection numbers were low, in a country considered to have advanced surveillance in place. ‘We don’t know what happens if omicron ends up in a place where there’s already a lot of delta — would it be able to compete or not? This is one of our big questions. 

After South African doctors reported that the strain Omicron appears to have less severe symptoms, it could be considered a “Christmas gift” for Omicron’s new Covid variation. 

Medics in South Africa said the strain is causing mild symptoms — such as a headache and tiredness — than previous versions of the virus and hasn’t led to a single hospitalisation or death. 

Karl Lauterbach is a German clinical epidemiologist and candidate for the next Health Minister. He said that Omicron may be an early Christmas present. It could even accelerate the end to the pandemic. 

He suggested that it has so many mutations — 32 on the spike protein alone, twice as many as Delta — which could mean it is optimised to infect and be less lethal, in line with how most respiratory viruses evolve. 

Paul Hunter is an expert in infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia. He said that the theory “may prove true” but added that vaccinations and high levels of prior infection may offer protection.

Also, this would be a good sign because it suggests that Covid victims or those who have received vaccines can still recognize the mutant. 

Scientists know that coronavirus cannot be eradicated, and will rather become milder viruses like the flu. 

Experts warned that the Omicron variation could have a significant impact on the health of people who are afflicted by the strain. It takes two weeks before they can determine if the effects will be severe.

Two weeks is also required for scientists to determine if Omicron’s troubling mutations, which could render it more infective than Delta or make it resistant to vaccinations, will be translated into the real world.

Most cases of the virus have occurred in younger adults, who suffer milder symptoms than those older people.  

This comes just as Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said that Christmas plans may be in danger due to the new strain. There are fears Britons might be stung by last-minute curbs such last year.

Ms Sturgeon said six Omicron cases were confirmed in Scotland. Some of these Omicron cases do not appear to have any links to the outside world, which suggests that Omicron may be spreading within the community.

She called for the UK — which has nine confirmed cases of the variant — to toughen up its approach by ordering all arrivals to self-isolate at home for eight days instead of two to curb the spread of the new strain. Boris Johnson rebuffed the idea and announced that the Government will reevaluate its policy in three weeks.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association and the first person to spot the new variant in a patient, said her patients infected with Omicron reported different and much milder symptoms, including tiredness, muscle aches, a sore head and a dry cough. But none reported the tell-tale symptoms of a loss of smell or taste or breathing difficulties

Chair of South African Medical Association, Dr Angelique Coetzee said that patients with Omicron were experiencing milder and more subtle symptoms. These included tiredness, headaches, and muscle aches. None of the symptoms, such as loss of taste, smell, or difficulty breathing were reported by any of these patients. 

The Botswana variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body's immune system struggles to recognise it and fight it off. And three of the spike mutations (H665Y, N679K, P681H) help it enter the body's cells more easily. Meanwhile, it is missing a membrane protein (NSP6) which was seen in earlier iterations of the virus, which experts think could make it more infectious. And it has two mutations (R203K and G204R) that have been present in all variants of concern so far and have been linked with infectiousness

Botswana has approximately 50 variants. More than 30 mutations are on spike protein. The body recognizes the older version of the virus with the latest vaccines. However, the changes may change the appearance of the spike protein so that the body’s immune systems is unable to fight off the virus. Three of its spike mutations, H665Y and N679K (P681H), allow it to enter cells faster. Experts believe it could be more contagious because it lacks a membrane protein (NSP6), as was the case in previous iterations. Two mutations (R203K, G204R) have been identified in the virus. These two mutations have been found in all known variants and are associated with infectiousness. 

Vaccine-makers Moderna and Pfizer are already working on Covid vaccines that could tackle the Omicron strain, if it poses a problem for the current crop of vaccines, and they could be ready in the first half of 2022

Moderna and Pfizer have already begun to develop Covid vaccines for Omicron, which could solve the problem with the current vaccines. They could be available in 2022’s first half.

This new variant was detected for the first time last week. Most cases were found in South Africa where daily infection rates soared to 6,048 per day on Saturday. That’s 20 times more than the 306 positive test results registered just two weeks ago. However, Saturday saw 20 deaths.

According to doctors, symptoms include fatigue, muscle pains and headaches.

Nicola Sturgeon asks for UK Arrivals to Quarantine for EIGHT DAYS

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales today called on Boris Johnson to extend Covid self-isolation rules for all UK arrivals from two to eight days to curb the spread of the Omicron variant — as Scotland confirmed six cases.

Nicola Sturgeon advised Scots that they should immediately return to their homes in order to combat the coronavirus. She said this as a warning signal for England, which could face further restrictions. 

Ms. Sturgeon stated that not all Omicron cases are linked to other countries, giving the impression that the strain may be spreading in the domestic environment. She also announced that surge testing would be conducted in areas where there is evidence of Omicron.

Mark Drakeford, leader of the SNP, and Mr Johnson have asked for an urgent COBRA meeting to discuss a ‘tougher 4 nations’ approach to combating this variant. 

They are also pushing for the Prime Minister to lay the groundwork for a potential return of the furlough scheme, which closed two months ago after costing more than £70billion, just in case the situation worsens. 

Downing Street, however, quickly dismissed the appeals of Ms Sturgeon, and Mr Drakeford by arguing that the Government’s initial response is still the right one. 

But they warned the first cases of the variant — scientifically known as B.1.1.529 — in the country have been among younger people, who tend to have higher infection levels due and experience milder illness.

Omicron spreading into the elderly could lead to different symptoms. Experts believe that severity and signs may be more severe.

Dr Angelique Cetzee is the chairperson of South African Medical Association. She was the first to identify the variant in patients. 

She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘What we are seeing clinically in South Africa – and remember I’m at the epicentre – it’s extremely mild.’

Dr. Coetzee stated that patients infected by the strain recover quickly at home, and they ‘get better within 2 to 3 days’ after being seen.

If the UK is ‘panicking excessively,’ she replied: “Yes. At present I would answer yes.” It’s not necessary to panic.

Lauterbach replied to comments and tweeted that Omicron, a more severe form of the virus, would be “an early Christmas present”.

However, he warned that only 6 percent of South Africa’s elderly population are above 65. Germany however is Europe’s oldest country and has many chronically ill individuals.

MailOnline’s Professor Hunter said that mild illness reports are only anecdotal and should not be taken seriously.

Omicron can cause milder illness than Omicron, but he believes it’s due to previous immunity from vaccination or infection. 

It could be less violent, however, it hopes to be milder, which’may prove to be true or false’, said Professor Hunter.

He stated, “Even if the virus is not as severe, getting the booster shot to help protect yourself is vital.”

Scientists warned that scientists are weeks away from knowing the effects of this new variant due to delays in the virus being transmitted and people becoming seriously ill.  

American chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci stated that experts will need to wait approximately two additional weeks before they can provide more information regarding transmissibility.

And Scotland’s First Minister said the coming weeks will reveal ‘much more’ about the variant.

British scientists have been waiting for the live copy of the variant to be delivered to their laboratories so they can conduct more tests.

While experts believe that vaccines can still protect against Omicron, actual data might show they have less effectiveness against Omicron as a result of the strain.  

The World Health Organization (WHO), however, noted how transmissible this variant was; how effective vaccines prevent infection and hospitalisation caused by Omicron; as well as whether Omicron causes severe illnesses.

According to the report, there was no indication that Omicron’s symptoms were different from any other variants.  

It warned that the variant may change the “trajectory” of the pandemic and could have severe consequences. 

MailOnline was informed by Dr Simon Clarke of Reading University that mild symptoms in South Africa were not indicative of the new virus.

He stated that it was too soon to expect the full range of symptoms. 

Dr Clarke stated that covid symptoms can be milder in other forms of the disease.

The majority of cases are linked to young people, who you “wouldn’t anticipate” to be suffering from a severe illness.

Dr Clarke stated that “everything has predicted it would be less virulent” but the trend is the reverse. 

“Even if this version is more virulent than Delta, it might still be as bad or worse than the original Wuhan one.”

This comes after No10 rejected calls by the Welsh and Scottish First Ministers today to have all UK visitors quarantined for 8 days, instead of 2 in an effort to stop the spread of this new variant. 

Mark Drakeford, Ms Sturgeon, and Mark Drakeford urged Mark Drakeford to summon an emergency COBRA committee meeting immediately. Boris Johnson was also requested to prepare the groundwork to allow for the return of the furlough system in the case of worsening circumstances.

Downing Street quickly rejected Mr Drakeford’s pleas. They argued that the initial Government response to this variant was still correct and will be reviewed within three weeks. 

We have everything that we know to date about the variant.

Why is this so troubling?

It is said to be the worst variant of the genome they’ve ever seen and experts are concerned by its many mutations.

The variant — which the World Health Organization has named Omicron — has 32 mutations on the spike protein — the most ever recorded and twice as many as the currently dominant Delta strain. 

Experts are concerned that the new vaccines could be 40% less effective than they were in the best case scenario.

Because so many of B.1.1.529’s changes are dependent on virus spike protein

Current vaccines cause the body’s recognition of older strains of the virus.

The new spike protein may look different, so the immune system might have trouble recognizing it and fighting it.

You can also find mutations on the Delta version that make it more spreadable.

Experts caution that they may not discover how infective the virus really is for two to three weeks. 

Which mutations can the variant be subject to? 

Botswana has over 50 mutations, with more than 30 on the spike protein.

The mutations N679K and P681H are rarely found together and may make the organism more resistant to jabs.

The virus may be able to slip into your cells by using these mutations and H655Y.

The mutation N501Y could make this strain more transmissible. It was previously seen on the Alpha and Beta strains — which were first spotted in South Africa and Kent, respectively.

R203K, G204R and G204R could also make it more contagious. A mutation missing in this variant (NSP6) may increase its transmissibility.  

Additionally, it has mutations K417N & E484A similar to the Beta variant. These made it easier to avoid vaccines.

But it also has the N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant — which was linked with a surge of cases in the state in March — that has been linked to antibody escape. 

The mutations that it also contains are Q476S, Q478K. Q493K. Q497R. Y505H. Their significance, however, is unclear.

What will it mean for Christmas in the UK

Experts stated that it would take several weeks to determine the extent of the danger posed by the new variant. This makes it unclear what steps should be taken before Christmas.

The Government has only added six new countries to its red list.

However Professor Adam Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said that he was a member the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. He stated, “We all need to prepare for the possibility that there will be a change in restrictions.”

And when asked what the situation would mean for the UK around the festive period, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Plan B measures — including mandatory face masks and work from home guidance — would be brought in if needed to control infection rates.

Do you think it is a concern variant?

According to the World Health Organization, this virus is a “variant of concern”, which refers to high-risk strains.

The WHO has concluded that the mutations it produces allow it to grow faster and cause more serious illness, or hinder protection against vaccines.

On Thursday, however, the UK Health and Security Agency declared the strain to be a “variant under investigation”. 

Omicron may be susceptible to ‘potentially bio-significant mutations’, which could affect vaccines, treatment and transmissibility.  

Omicron has been found in which part of the UK? 

British health chiefs announced on Saturday two cases of Omicron had been spotted in England, with one case in Chelmsford in Essex and the second in Nottingham. These cases are linked to recent South African travel.

The third confirmed case came from a woman who was visiting Westminster, London. However, she has now left the UK. 

And six cases were confirmed in Scotland today, four in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

The Deputy First Minister of Scotland said that some cases in Scotland were not related to travel to south Africa. This suggests the possibility that the variant may be already being spread within the country. 

In the US, government labs examine 75 Omicron cases that are “probable” and 150 cases that may be considered possible. 

Scientists don’t sequence all positive Covid samples in the UK. Not everyone who is infected with the virus will be able to take the test. The variant could infect many other people in Britain. 

What countries have this variant been identified so far in? 

It was first detected in South Africa, the most affected country, last week. The variant was also quickly discovered in Israel, Botswana and Israel.

Since then, cases have been reported in Australia, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. 

Many cases were found in Gauteng (a north-east South African province where Johannesburg is situated). 

This was the first case that was uploaded by Hong Kong to their international variant data GISAID. The information was provided by someone who traveled to Hong Kong from South Africa.  

What can the UK do about this variant?

Last week, 10 additional countries were added to the red-list by Health Secretary.

The red-listed countries are: South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. These countries are prohibited from flying direct to the UK.

Arriving from these countries on Sunday after 4 a.m. must remain in managed quarantine hotels for 10 nights and pass a Covid screening on the second or third day. 

At a press conference, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Saturday that every traveller entering the UK must take a PCR test within 2 days. He will then isolate the results until they get a positive result. 

All contacts who test positive for Omicron must be isolated, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Britons should cover their faces in public places and shops. In bars, bars, and restaurants, however, you are not allowed to wear masks.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises No10 on vaccine rollout is expected to extend the booster program to all adults and reduce the time between booster and second doses. 

The jab is available to over-40s and health- and social service workers, as well as vulnerable adults, six months following their last dose.

B.1.1.529 was last week classified by the UK Health Security Agency as a “variant under examination”, meaning it is subject to worrying mutations.

Experts have completed a risk assessment. If it’s found to be more dangerous, more serious or to make medicines and vaccines less effective, experts may raise its rank to “variant of concern”.

Is this where B.1.1.529 was first discovered?

Hong Kong posted the first case on November 23 to its international variant databank GISAID. This person was traveling from South Africa to obtain the variant.

Health chiefs stated that the UK was the first nation to recognize the threat of the virus and alerted others. 

Experts think the strain could have been originated in Botswana. However, there are not many positive samples from continental Africa so we may never know where it came from.

Francois Balloux from University College London said that the virus was likely to have emerged as a lingering illness in an immunocompromised person, perhaps someone suffering undiagnosed AIDS.

Because the immune system is weak, infections can persist for many months in patients who have weakened immunity. The virus has time to develop mutations which allow it to bypass the body’s defenses.

Do I get protection if I use a booster to protect me?

Scientists warn that the new strain of Covid could render vaccines 40% less effective.

However, they stated that the mutations make it all the more critical to have a booster jab as soon people can be eligible.

These antibodies can be activated by vaccinations. This is the best form of protection for the new type. Experts agree that the greater the number of antibodies, the better.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The booster jab was already important before we knew about this variant – but now, it could not be more important.’  

What will be the next step in learning more information about this variant?

It is currently weeks before we have data about how transmissible this variant is, and the impact it has on hospitalisations or deaths.

South Africa is the most affected country in South Africa’s cases. The UK offered to help them gather information. They believe that they can learn more about transmissibility within two or three weeks.

It could take them up to six weeks before they learn more about deaths and hospitalisations.

Which variant is it called?

On November 24, the strain was officially named B.1.1.529, one day after being spotted in Hong Kong.

Friday’s announcement by the World Health Organization was based upon its system for naming new viruses based on Greek alphabet, the variant Omicron.