A person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant, the White House announced Wednesday as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new virus strain.
Dr Anthony Fauci told reporters that the person was a traveller who returned from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive on November 29. Fauci said the person was vaccinated but had not received a booster shot and was experiencing “mild symptoms.”
The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Fauci said.
He said the person was improving and added, “I think what’s happening now is another example of why it’s important for people to get vaccinated. But also boosting. Boosting is very important.”
Officials said they had contacted everyone who had close contact with the person and they had all tested negative.
Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.