Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, a former assistant secretary of state for health and human services and director of testing for Covid-19 in the Trump administration, told CNN he agrees with Message from President Biden that people should be worried about the Omicron variant, but they shouldn’t panic.
“I agree with that tone and message,” Giroir said, when asked about Biden’s remarks. “We should be worried…but we shouldn’t panic.”
“Our test still works perfectly. Our vaccine will most likely provide some immune protection, and I agree that it is very important to expand your reservoir, perfect your immune pool, by using use that enhancer. Regardless of Omicron, it is very important to get it just for Delta,” he said.
When asked about what is being seen early on what is known about Omicron, Giroir said, “we have no evidence that Omicron is more serious.”
Refer to comments from Dr Angelique Coetzee, a doctor who has treated patients with Omicron, who said on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that Most cases are considered mild to moderateGiroir says he’d love to believe it – but it’s important to remember that the patients treated are generally young.
“We really don’t know how Omicron will affect the elderly or people with chronic conditions,” he said. “So we don’t have evidence that it’s worse, but I don’t want people to assume it’s just mild and we can blow this away.”
Giroir also said that the variation “could have been here. We just don’t see it take over, doesn’t mean it won’t, but, you know, we just need to stay calm.”
He reiterated that there are things that can be done, including vaccinations and health promotion, home testing, ensuring the elderly are protected and wearing masks when appropriate.
Giroir added that there are new oral antiviral drugs that “will be completely effective against Omicron, as they work against others”. An antiviral, from Merck, which is being reviewed by advisors from the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday.
Oral antivirals are “very important, powerful tools that will work against Omicron, Delta and all the other variants,” he said.
Giroir also said the US “absolutely” needs more testing. He said that testing “has plummeted” in mid-summer “and production of antigen tests halted,” although he thinks the administration is trying to reverse that.
One thing people can do, aside from booster shots, is home testing, he said.
“I actually just went to Walmart yesterday and picked up two boxes of the home test, just to prepare and for my family to prepare,” he said. “Everybody should be able to do it. And I think the federal government should send home tests to all the underserved or an at-risk community so they can test themselves.”