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Anthony Fauci urged Americans Wednesday to get vaccinated to halt the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in India, which currently accounts for 6% of infections in the U.S.

Why it matters: The United Kingdom has seen an explosion in new cases as a result of the variant, which is now the dominant strain and may be associated with increased disease severity.

  • The U.K. reported 7,540 new cases on Wednesday, a surge that has largely been driven by virus spread among unvaccinated young people.
  • Evidence suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective against the variant, a fact that Fauci cited to highlight the urgent need for more Americans to get vaccinated.

What he's saying: "We cannot declare victory prematurely because there is still a substantial portion of people who have not been vaccinated," Fauci said Wednesday on CNN.

  • "We don't want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the U.K., where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant," he continued.
  • "We have within our power to do that by getting people vaccinated, because we have very, very good vaccines."

The big picture: The pace of vaccinations is waning in the U.S. Last week, there was a 13% decrease in vaccinations as compared to the week before, according to the Washington Post.

  • In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering halting his plans to fully reopen society on June 21 as a result of the new surge, according to the Washington Post.
  • President Biden has also sounded alarm over the situation in the U.K. and urged young Americans to get vaccinated. "If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love," Biden wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

Go deeper

Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Sep 29, 2021 - Health

CDC issues urgent advisory calling on pregnant people to get COVID vaccine

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The CDC issued "an urgent health advisory" on Wednesday urging people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The CDC said it "strongly recommends" vaccination because its benefits for a pregnant person and the fetus outweigh the risks. It added that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at "increased risk" of outcomes such as preterm birth, stillbirth and admission of a newborn into the ICU.

Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker