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Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday said that the number of Omicron coronavirus cases in the United States is "likely to rise."

Why it matters: The newly discovered variant has already been detected in at least 15 states, fueling concerns about the strain's ability to drive up a new wave of infections.

  • Whether Omicron is more transmissible than prior variants is not yet known, but there are some signs that it may not cause more severe disease than the other variants, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.
  • Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Walensky stressed that the more mutations a variant possesses, the more immunity an individual needs to prevent infection, adding that "we're really pushing to get more people vaccinated and more people boosted."

What they're saying: "We know it has many mutations ... and many of those mutations have been associated with more transmissible variants," Walensky told host Martha Raddatz.

  • "What we don't yet know is how transmissible it will be, how well our vaccines will work, whether it will lead to more severe disease," she added.
  • "We're really hopeful that our vaccines will work in a way that even if they don't prevent disease entirely, prevent infection entirely, that they can work to protect severe disease and keep people out of the hospital."

Go deeper

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.