The discoverer of Omicron talks to Al Jazeera about the characteristics of the new mutant, and Biden announces an expanded plan to confront the Corona epidemic


South African scientist Angelique Coetzee, who discovered the new strain of the Corona virus “Omicron”, spoke – in an interview with Al Jazeera – about the characteristics of this mutated version, while US President Joe Biden announced a new strategy to address the pandemic.

Coetzee, who heads the South African Medical Association, said that Omicron is a rapidly spreading mutated, but its danger is not yet clear, at a time when scientists are seeking to find out how effective vaccines are in combating it.

Coetzee – who spoke to Al Jazeera on Thursday evening via video from Pretoria – explained that the characteristics of the new mutant reflect a “radical and more dangerous” difference from the Delta mutant, which has been spreading around the world for about a year and has accounted for half of the new infections with “Covid-19”.

She pointed out that vaccines provide protection from the Omicron mutant and relieve its symptoms, but she added that it has not been clear so far the effect of the mutant on the unvaccinated.

The South African scientist stated that the rapid test to detect “Covid-19” is able to identify the infection of the new mutant.

South Africa informed the World Health Organization on November 24 of its discovery of a new mutant of the Corona virus, and the organization rushed to study it and classified it as a “worrying” mutant, and named it after the Greek letter “Omicron”.

Omicron prompted many countries in the world to impose new restrictions on travel, and to close their borders to those coming from southern Africa.

Biden said his country would fight Omicron “with science and speed, not chaos and confusion” (Reuters)

Biden’s plan

For his part, US President Joe Biden – who announced today, Thursday, a new strategy to tackle the pandemic – said that officials do not currently believe that additional measures should be taken to confront Omicron, but “we need contingency plans.”

Biden announced that the new strategy includes a set of measures, the first of which is the expansion of the vaccination campaign with the booster dose of the vaccine. He explained that this plan, recommended by experts, is aimed at “protecting us and our economy.”

In his speech at the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health, the US President said, “We will fight this mutation with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

Yesterday, Wednesday, the authorities announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron strain in the United States, in a person in California.

And a second case was discovered Thursday, in a person in Minnesota who had traveled in recent days to New York City.

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