U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden on Tuesday said Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely celebrate the holidays, even as as the omicron Covid variant rapidly spreads across the U.S. and casts uncertainty over many people’s plans.
The president said although many fully vaccinated people will get breakthrough infections in the coming weeks, they are protected against severe illness and death. People who are fully vaccinated, particularly those who have also received a booster, have high levels of protection against hospitalization, he said.
“We’ll see some fully vaccinated people get Covid, potentially in large numbers,” Biden said. “There will be positive cases in every office, even here in the White House among the vaccinated, but these cases are highly unlikely to lead to serious illness.”
However, Biden warned that people who are unvaccinated have reason to worry about omicron. “You’re at high risk of getting sick, and if you get sick you’re likely to spread it to others, including families and friends,” the president said.
“Omicron is serious and potentially deadly business for unvaccinated people,” Biden warned.
The president said the U.S. is much better equipped today to fight the virus than the country was when the pandemic first hit. “This is not March of 2020,” Biden said, the month when Covid led to lockdowns around the nation and a devastating surge in deaths in epicenters like New York City.
Biden rejected criticism that widespread shortages of at-home testing kits are sign that his administration failed to prepare for a surge in demand over the holidays.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.