Anthony Fauci says U.S. is "rushing now" to get scientific data about new COVID variant

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  • Anthony Fauci
    Anthony Fauci
    American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

U.S. public health officials were set to speak Friday with their South Africa counterparts as they sought scientific details about a new COVID-19 variant already prompting European and Asian countries to enact new travel restrictions.

Driving the news: Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN Friday "we're rushing now to get that scientific data to try and make an informed decision" on a possible travel ban.

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  • "If, in fact, it does evade the vaccines that we're doing. There's always the possibility of doing what the U.K. has done, namely, block travel from South Africa and related countries," Fauci said.

  • "You're prepared to do everything you need to do to protect the American public, but you want to make sure there's a basis for doing that, and that's what we're doing right now."

The big picture: Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. officials "just arranged, right now, a discussion between our scientists and the South African scientists" for later Friday on the new variant, called B.1.1.529.

  • "We want to find out, scientist-to-scientist, exactly what is going on," he added. "Right now, you're talking about sort of like a red flag that this might be an issue, but we don't know."

Go deeper: Europe, Asia tighten borders in fear of new COVID variant

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