As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading in the United States, President Joe Biden said that unvaccinated people are at a significantly higher risk of ending up in a hospital or dying from Covid-19.
Addressing the American citizens from the White House, Biden said on Tuesday, “If you’re unvaccinated, you’re at a high risk of getting sick. And if you get sick you’re likely to spread it to others, including friends and family. We should all be concerned about Omicron, but not panicked.”
Biden said that people who have been fully vaccinated and have also taken the booster dose have a high degree of protection against severe illness.
However, the US President added that the Omicron variant spreads so easily that even people who are fully inoculated can test positive for Covid-19.
“Vaccinated people who get Covid may get ill. But they’re protected from severe illness and death. That’s why you should still remain vigilant,” Biden further said during his address on Tuesday.
The Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa last month, is accounting for 73% of the new Covid-19 infections in the United States. On Tuesday, the country reported its first known death from the variant in the state of Texas.
The United States government will be distributing hundreds of millions of free Covid tests amid the Omicron crisis and mobilise military medical personnel if required.
The new variant has been reported in dozens of countries and is highly infectious and three times more transmissible than the Delta variant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that Omicron could more likely infect or re-infect people vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19.