Asked about concerns of Omicron spread amid a slew of COVID-19 cases among migrants at the southern border. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that the variant was likely to spread in the country “no matter what.”
Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, was grilled by Fox News host Neil Cavuto about reports that said 18 percent of migrant families and 20 percent of unaccompanied minors tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I think given what we know about the transmissibility and a likely transmissibility advantage of Omicron … once it gets in there, it will likely, under the radar screen, be spreading no matter what you do to keep people out or not,” Fauci said during the rare appearance on the cable news channel.
“That’s the way viruses work,” he added. “We saw that happen with Delta. I do hope that Omicron doesn’t have that kind of advantage, particularly if it turns out to be serious.”
The “good news,” Fauci said, is that with a small sample size Omicron has not been proven to cause severe sickness though the doctor said “many many many more” people have to be followed to understand the latest variant’s potency.
Cavuto estimated that the percent of those infected could mean about 4,000 people infected in encampments if the overall number of migrants at the border crossing is about 20,000 people. If those numbers are the case, the host argued, wouldn’t that undo any efforts to curb the spread of the virus at US airports?
Fauci said he believed that would be a “moot point” as more cases are confirmed. There are now 13 states that have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
Asked what the US could do about the issue, Fauci said he didn’t have an easy answer but cited Title 42, which gives authority to expel people who’ve crossed the border illegally on health emergency grounds.
“You know, Neil, I don’t have an easy answer for that,” Fauci said. “I mean obviously Title 42 is still operable at the border, trying to keep people who should not come in into the country. There is testing that is done — I’m certain it’s not as extensive as we would like to see — but I have to admit, Neil, I don’t have an easy answer that’s a very difficult problem.”
Fauci told Cavuto that people should still seek to get vaccinated even if a new variant has a high likelihood of breakthrough infection. Vaccinated individuals have been shown to be less likely to suffer moderate or severe sickness when they get the coronavirus, he said.