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Fauci defends omicron travel restrictions

President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, on Sunday defended the travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration and other governments in response to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

The restrictions on travel from South Africa and other countries in that region were necessary and justified, Fauci said, to give governments and populations time to prepare for the variant, which scientists worry could be more transmissible. 

“You know, it will slow things down, George,” Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Travel bans, when you have a highly transmissible virus, never completely … prevent it from coming into the country. No way that’s going to happen,” Fauci said.

“But what you can do is you can delay it enough to get us better prepared. And that’s the thing that people need to understand. If you’re going to do the travel ban the way we’ve done now and that we’re implementing right now, utilize the time that you’re buying to fill in the gaps,” Fauci said. 

“And by time buying … you learn more about the virus, you learn what its relationship is to the antibodies induced by vaccines, and, above all, you use this time to really, really put your pedal to the floor and get people vaccinated and get people boosted,” he added.

South African officials have criticized the restrictions on travel, which come during a high tourism season for that country. They have also said that the restrictions could lead other countries to not be as transparent about providing information on future COVID-19 variants.

South Africa has been credited by Fauci and others for quickly alerting the world to the news of the new variant.

The United States on Friday announced that it would be restricting travel to eight southern African countries beginning Monday in light of its detection in South Africa. The others are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

“As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises,” President Biden said in a statement on the restrictions. 

Tags Anthony Fauci Anthony Fauci George Stephanopoulos Joe Biden omicron Sunday shows travel restrictions

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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