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National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins on Sunday said that while much is still unknown about the Omicron coronavirus variant, "there's no reason to panic" yet but more data is needed.

Why it matters: Collins' remarks on CNN's "State of the Union" come amid a broader discussion of how the new strain, first identified in South Africa, will impact the pandemic and how to curb its spread.

  • The newly discovered Omicron variant has a significant number of mutations that have led some to fear that it may be able to evade immune systems and drive a new wave of cases.
  • Collins reiterated the impact the new variant will have is not known, adding that it should "redouble our efforts to use the tools that we have, which are vaccinations and boosters."
  • Collins cautioned it could take a few weeks to know just how effective current vaccines will be against Omicron.

What they're saying: "I think there's good reasons to think it will probably be OK," Collins told host Dana Bash.

  • "We're going to get better information about this," he added. "There's no reason to panic but a great reason to get boosted."
  • "We have to use every kind of tool in our toolbox to keep ... from getting in a situation that makes this worse."

Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, said on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

  • "If and when, and it's going to be when, it comes here, hopefully we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via vaccine, masking — all the things that we do, and should be doing," he said on ABC's "This Week."

Go deeper: Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Go deeper

Updated 19 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.