Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday admitted that public health officials have yet to prove if vaccines and boosters protect against the Omicron variant of the Chinese coronavirus but urged people to get vaccinated and boosted anyway, regardless of the current lack of data.
During a Friday White House press briefing, Fauci went through a series of slides on vaccines and boosters, looking at the data on the Delta variant, which is currently most prominent in the U.S. Notably, Fauci did not mention his previous admission that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collecting data on breakthrough infections that is not readily available to the public.
Ultimately, Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky repeatedly urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted throughout the press conference, yet Fauci admitted that they have not yet proven that vaccines will be effective against the Omicron variant.
“Although we haven’t proven it yet, there’s every reason to believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted that you would have at least some degree of cross-protection, very likely against severe disease, even against the Omicron variant,” he said, making the admission.
“And so, in the final slide, my message reflects that of Dr. Walensky: Get vaccinated and get boosted,” he said.
Similarly, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said vaccines “clearly remain our most important tool, and the doctors’ message is crystal clear: If you are fully vaccinated before June, it’s time for you to go get your booster.”
“If you’re unvaccinated, go get your first shot today. And if your kids are five years or older and not yet vaccinated, get them the protection of the vaccine as well,” he said.
The first case of the Omicron variant in the U.S. occurred in a fully vaccinated individual, and at least one of the five cases in New York occurred in a woman who was vaccinated, at least to some degree. The vaccination status of the others remained unknown at the time of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) joint press conference on Thursday.
During that press conference, both Hochul and de Blasio pitched vaccines as the absolute best way to combat the variant, despite the lack of data on the effectiveness of vaccines against this variant, specifically.
Over the weekend, Fauci suggested the CDC is tracking breakthrough infections but said much of the information is not in the reach of the general public.
“It’s a very complicated situation,” he said during an appearance on Face the Nation. “And often the public doesn’t hear yet in time things that are being collected. So there’s a lot of data, clearly a lot of data, that’s being collected by the CDC that people don’t know about yet.”