Biden calls Omicron variant 'a cause for concern, not a cause for panic'

Delivering remarks on Monday after meeting with the White House COVID-19 response team, President Biden said the Omicron coronavirus variant is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” He also urged Americans to get fully vaccinated if they have yet to do so, or to get a booster shot if they are eligible.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: Today, there are three messages about the new variant that I want the American people to hear. First, this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we're learning more every single day. And we'll fight this variant with scientific and-- and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion. We have more tools today to fight the variant than we've ever had before, from vaccines to boosters to vaccines for children five years and older, and much more.

A year ago, America was floundering against the first variant of COVID. We beat that variant significantly, and then we got hit by a far more powerful threat, the delta variant. But we took action, and now we're seeing deaths from delta come down. We'll fight the-- you know, and look, we're going to fight and beat this new variant, as well. We're learning more about this new variant every single day. And as we learn more, we're going to share that information with the American people candidly and promptly.

Second, the best protection-- I know you're tired of hearing me say this-- the best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we've been dealing with already, is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot. Most Americans are fully vaccinated, but not yet boosted. If you're 18 years or over and got fully vaccinated before June the 1st, go get the booster shot today. They're free and they're available at 80,000 locations coast to coast. A fully vaccinated, boostered person is the most protected against COVID. Do not wait. Go get your booster if it's time for you to do so.

And if you are not vaccinated, now's the time to get vaccinated and take your children to be vaccinated. Every child age five or older can get safe, effective vaccines now. While it will be a few weeks before we know everything we need to know about how strongly the existing vaccines protect against the new variant, Dr. Fauci is with me today, or our medical team, and believe that the vaccines will continue to provide a degree of protection against severe disease. And as additional protections, please wear your mask when you're indoors in public settings around other people. It protects you, it protects those around you.

Third, in the event, hopefully unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool. I want to reiterate, Dr. Fauci believes that the current vaccines provide at least some protection against the new variant and the boosters strengthen that protection significantly. We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed. But so that we are prepared, if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.

And I will also direct the FDA and the CDC to use the fastest process available, without cutting any corners for safety, to get such vaccines approved and on the market if needed. And we'll do that the same way, any modifications are needed, our current treatments need to use to help those with-- who get ill with the COVID virus. Look--