Statement by President Joe Biden on the COVID-19 variant of Omicron

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This morning I was greeted by my senior medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci and members of our COVID response team informed about the variant of Omicron that is spreading in southern Africa. As a precaution, until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29th. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by the advice of science and my medical team.

Right now I have two important messages for the American people and one for the world community.

First, for Americans who are fully vaccinated against serious COVID illness – fortunately for the vast majority of our adults – the best way to strengthen your protection is to get a booster vaccination once you are eligible. Boosters are approved for all adults over 18 six months after vaccination and are available at 80,000 coast-to-coast locations. They’re safe, free, and convenient. Get your booster shot now so you have that extra protection during the holiday season.

Second, for those who are not yet fully vaccinated, get vaccinated today. This includes both children and adults. America leads the world in vaccinating children ages 5-11 and has been vaccinating teenagers for many months – but we need more Americans of all ages to receive this life-saving protection. If you haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t taken your children with you to be vaccinated, now is the right time.

Finally for the global community: The news about this new variant should make it clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has donated more vaccines to other countries than any other country combined. It is time for other countries to catch up with America’s speed and generosity.

Additionally, I call on the nations gathering for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting next week to meet the US challenge to remove intellectual property protection from COVID vaccines so that those vaccines can be manufactured globally. I endorsed this position in April; Today’s news reaffirms the importance of moving this forward quickly.

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