Dr Francis Collins, outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health: “No one expected omicron. This one was really a curve ball.
Dr Francis Collins, who retired as director of the National Institutes of Health last weekend, has a few farewell words for Americans fed up with coronavirus: the virus is not fed up from you.
As the omicron variant spreads around the world, rocking financial markets and worrying health officials, he told the weekend edition of NPR: “I’m worried and I know people are fed up. , I’m fed up, but the virus is not tired of us.
“If anyone who listens to this thinks about throwing away caution because it’s been so long and he’s so sick of it, there are real consequences out there.” We don’t know what this virus is capable of doing. “
“No one expected omicron,” he said. “This one was really a curvy ball. It’s almost like we’re starting over with a different virus than the one where we started. Although appearing milder, this variant is found to be more resistant to vaccines.
“We all expected something to come on the delta’s heels. But we expected it to be delta plus, ”Collins added. “Instead, what we got was omicron, which has nothing to do with the previous strains.”
“We’re dealing with a pretty different virus that seems to really stress the immune system’s ability to respond to it, making it a bit more difficult than we thought. “
As such, he urged people to get their recalls, and said that while a small fraction of omicron infections are serious, it will still be a large number. “We could have 1 million cases a day if we don’t really pay attention to all of these mitigation strategies.”
““We are dealing with a quite different virus that seems to really emphasize the ability of the immune system to respond to it, which makes it a little more difficult than we thought.”“
Two years after the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 killed 802,969 Americans on Monday. There is a daily average of 133,012 new cases in the United States, up 21% over two weeks, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker.
Recent research suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech PFE BNTX and Moderna MRNA booster injections appear to offer more antibodies and protect against serious illnesses caused by omicron than AstraZeneca AZN and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.
But millions of people who are not vaccinated remain. Just over 61% of the U.S. population – or nearly 204 million people – are vaccinated, and only 29.5% have received a booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Collins announced in October that he was stepping down as director of the NIH, after leading the research center for 12 years. He has become one of the main voices in public health during the two-year coronavirus pandemic.
He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009. The NIH, a medical research agency that is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Collins, a medical geneticist known for his disease gene discoveries, was also director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 2008.
“Our healthcare workers are going to be infected with omicron,” Collins told NPR. He said he thought compulsory vaccination for health workers was a good idea. “Even if they end up having a mild illness, they can’t work very well if they are sick.”