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The omicron Covid-19 variant that has prompted global travel restrictions and fresh vaccine mandates since its discovery in southern Africa last month has now been found in 50 countries and 19 states across the U.S., CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

“While we are still working to understand the severity of omicron as well as how it responds to therapeutics and vaccines, we anticipate that all of the same measures will at least, in part, provide some protection against omicron,” Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 press briefing, reiterating her call to get vaccinated.

Jeff Zients, who’s leading the White House’s Covid response efforts, said vaccinations have surged with roughly 12.5 million shots administered over the last week — 7 million of which were booster shots.

“That’s the highest weekly total number of shots since May,” he said. “So we’re now vaccinating people in numbers we haven’t seen since the spring.”

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said scientists should have some data by the middle of next week that shows how well today’s vaccines stand up to the new variant, which contains dozens of mutations that generally make it more contagious.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.



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