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Screenshot: CNN's "State of the Union."

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that the United States is reevaluating the travel restrictions from south African countries "on a daily basis."

Why it matters: Last week, the World Health Organization called on countries not to impose such travel bans in the wake of the Omicron variant, saying the restrictions "place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods."

What they're saying: The "ban was done at a time when we were really in the dark," Fauci told host CNN "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper.

  • "We had no idea what was going on except this seemed to have been an explosion of cases in South Africa," he added.
  • "We all feel very badly about the hardship that might have [been] put upon not only South Africa but the other African countries."

Fauci also said that the data was "encouraging regarding the severity" of Omicron but cautioned that it was "too early" to make any definitive statements.

"We really gotta be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to Delta," he said.

Go deeper

Scientists, doctors condemn personal attacks on Fauci

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

More than 100 leading scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter defending NIAID director Anthony Fauci, calling Republican criticisms of him inaccurate and "motivated by partisan politics."

Why it matters: The letter comes days after Fauci, in a fiery exchange with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said that the Kentucky senator's repeated attacks on him have led to "threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children."

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Jan 14, 2022 - Health

What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Omicron variant doesn't cause as much severe illness as other variants have, but its "mild" symptoms can still be pretty unpleasant.

The big picture: The way health care professionals and doctors differentiate between "mild" and "severe" illness may not align with a layperson's understanding of those terms.

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America
  3. Politics: Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker