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- American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- 46th and current president of the United States
The detection of the newly identified omicron COVID-19 variant in multiple U.S. states is expected to dominate this week's Sunday show circuit.
Earlier this week, the United States announced its first confirmed case of the newly detected omicron variant, which scientists and health officials are racing to learn more about. The first case was discovered in a vaccinated San Francisco resident who just returned from South Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The announcement soon kicked off a steady stream of confirmed omicron cases in other states, including in Minnesota, New York and Colorado.
At least a dozen states have now reported confirmed cases of the variant - something that health officials had suspected would be the case given that it had already been reported in other countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom.
"As we all know, when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here," President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told ABC's "This Week," anchor George Stephanopoulos last Sunday.
The World Health Organization labeled the variant, which was first discovered in South Africa last month, as a "variant of concern" due to an increased risk of re-infection and the fact that it has a lot of mutations.
The variant immediately put countries on high alert as some such as the United Kingdom and U.S. decided to implement travel restrictions on certain southern African nations. Israel became the first country to shut down its borders to all international travelers completely.
The travel restrictions have proven controversial among nations and health officials. Some, such as former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, have criticized the move, arguing it is punishing countries for being forthcoming about their research and COVID-19 detections.
However, others, including Fauci, have argued that it is buying nations time to handle a possibly more contagious variant, though he noted the choice to implement travel restrictions was not an easy one.
"We felt - or at least I felt and I know several other members of the team felt - really badly about that because the South Africans have been extremely transparent and collegial in getting information to us," Fauci told CNN's Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper during an CNN town hall regarding the Biden administration's decision to institute travel restrictions.
"It was a very difficult choice to make because we had no idea what's going on when you saw what was coming out," he added. "So we felt it was better to be safe than sorry."
Meanwhile, the FDA is reportedly eyeing steps for an expedited assessment for drugs and vaccines targeting the omicron variant in the event that such steps become necessary, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Fauci said on Friday that while "we could probably get a good bit of mileage just from boosting with the ancestral strain vaccine that we already have," other contingency plans were being developed between pharmaceutical companies and the administration, too.
Some of those plans entail creating a booster specific to the variant, boosting the current supply of vaccines already available or creating a vaccine that works against a new variant and the ancestral strain.
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins warned last week, however, that it will take several weeks before scientists better understand how effective the current vaccines are against the omicron variant.
"If you've raised antibodies against [COVID-19] from previously being infected or from being vaccinated, the question is, will those antibodies still stick to this version of the spike protein, or will they evade that protection? We need to find that out, to be honest, though that's gonna take two, three weeks in both laboratory and field studies to figure out the answer," Collins said last weekend during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
"And that's what all of us as scientists want to know," he added.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is scheduled to appear on ABC's "This Week." Collins is scheduled to appear on NBC's "Meet the Press." Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is scheduled to appear on both CBS' "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday."
Fauci is scheduled to appear on CNN's "State of the Union." Additionally, World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, and Illumina CEO Francis deSouza are both scheduled to appear on "Face the Nation," too.
Below is the full list of guests scheduled to appear on this week's Sunday talk shows:
ABC's "This Week" - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
NBC's "Meet the Press" - Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Sen. Amy Klobuchar( D-Minn.); Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
CBS' "Face the Nation" - Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general; Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.); Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19; Francis deSouza, CEO of the biotechnology company Illumina.
CNN's "State of the Union" - Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.)
"Fox News Sunday" - Murthy; Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operation at U.S. Space Force; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.)
Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" - Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas);
Dr. Ben Carson, Former HUD Secretary & Founder/Chairman, The American Cornerstone Institute; Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Enes Kanter Freedom, Boston Celtics Center