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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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.

  • "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

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
4 mins ago - World

DOJ's China Initiative under scrutiny as cases fall apart

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The tide of public opinion may be turning against the Justice Department's China Initiative, as more cases fall apart and more of the researchers charged are speaking out.

The big picture: Chinese government-linked economic and industrial espionage in the United States is a real concern, but the China Initiative's flaws may be overshadowing the problem it was intended to address.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton's wild ride and possible buyers

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Peloton is having a bumpy ride, and has become a source of fascination among even those who've never invested or clipped in.

Driving the news: On Monday, a hedge fund with less than a 5% stake in Peloton called for CEO John Foley to be fired and for the connected fitness company to consider seeking a strategic buyer. Shares gained nearly 10% on the news, but remained down 16.2% for the year and off 80% their December 2020 peak.