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Unvaccinated are facing 'winter of severe illness and death,' White House warns Americans
21 December 2021, 11:38
The White House has issued a stark warning to all unvaccinated Americans, as the Government announce their plan to tackle Omicron.
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US Government officials warned hospitals "may soon be overwhelmed", placing the blame on anti-vaxxers who now face a "winter of severe illness and death".
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeff Zients, addressed the nation in a televised press conference to praise those who had "done the right thing" by taking up the offer of a booster jab and condemn those who were unvaccinated.
Warning that Omicron is "more transmissible" Mr Zients said the Government is "intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated".
It comes as America battles with the Omicron variant which accounted for 73% of new infections last week and is now the dominant version of coronavirus in the US.
During the press briefing, Mr Zients said: "As we’ve explained in prior briefings, the Omicron variant is more transmissible and our medical experts anticipate it will lead to a rise in cases.
"But unlike last winter, we now have the power to protect ourselves.
"Our vaccines work against Omicron, especially for people who get booster shots when they are eligible.
"If you are vaccinated, you could test positive. But if you do get COVID, your case will likely be asymptomatic or mild.
"We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this.
"For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm."
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in Omicron's share of infections in only one week in the US.
In much of the country, it is even higher. Omicron is responsible for an estimated 90% or more of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.
The national rate suggests that more than 650,000 Omicron infections occurred in the US last week.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said the new numbers reflect the kind of growth seen in other countries.
"These numbers are stark, but they're not surprising," she said.
Much about the Omicron variant remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe illness.
But early studies suggest the vaccinated will need a booster shot for the best chance at preventing Omicron infection but even without the extra dose, vaccination still should offer strong protection against severe illness and death.