WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A new coronavirus sub-variant has been identified and now U.S. health officials say we need to stop chasing short-term solutions and focus on longer-term fixes that will help us cope with the virus.
While the World Health Organization monitors the spread of a new subvariant, dubbed “stealth omicron,” Pfizer announced it started clinical trials for an omicron specific vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s top medical advisor, says there’s an urgent need for something else — a universal coronavirus vaccine.
That universal vaccine — called a pan-coronavirus vaccine — would be targeted toward the types of variants that are most likely to cause outbreaks.
“I don’t want anyone to think that pan coronavirus vaccines are literally around the corner in a month or two,” Fauci said. “It’s going to take years to develop.”
Top medical officials say it’s unlikely the novel coronavirus will be eradicated or eliminated. Instead, they say the country and world should aim to get the virus under control.
Fauci referred to a “level of control that does not disrupt us in society.”
According to Fauci, that level of controlling the virus will mean fewer hospitalizations and deaths, similar to numbers from the flu.
To facilitate that, Fauci says people need to get the currently available vaccines and boosters because they still provide high protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
While omicron is associated with less severe symptoms, medical officials warn people should not become complacent.
“Importantly, milder does not mean mild,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “We cannot look past the strain on our health systems and substantial number of deaths.”