With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 raging across the world, U.S. health officials are urging Americans to use caution over the holidays.
National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told CBS’s "Face The Nation" on Sunday the new variant is different enough that it could potentially evade vaccines and other precautions.
COLLINS: "I'm glad to say it's not totally successful at that. A big message for today is if you've had vaccines and a booster, you're very well protected against Omicron causing you severe disease. So, anybody listening to this, who's in that 60% of Americans who are eligible for a booster but haven't yet gotten one, this is the week to do it. Do not wait."
Omicron has been found in 43 U.S. states and around 90 countries so far, since it was first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong in late November.
The number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, the World Health Organization said, and spreading rapidly.
In the U.S., cases and deaths have risen about 50% since the start of the month, according to a Reuters tally.
Many sports games have been rescheduled and live shows canceled – with officials fearing holiday travel and gatherings could fuel Omicron's spread.
COLLINS:"If you're not vaccinated, I would say travel is really not a great idea because you are in a very vulnerable place now with Omicron. If you are vaccinated and boosted, wear your mask."
President Joe Biden plans to give a speech on Tuesday about the fast-spreading variant, hammering home his message of increased vaccinations and testing.