The U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant Wednesday in a vaccinated traveler who returned to California after a trip to South Africa as scientists around the world race to establish whether the new, mutant version of the coronavirus is more dangerous than previous ones.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States, top infectious-disease expert, announced the finding at the White House.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” he said.
The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 Monday. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco obtained a sample from the patient Tuesday evening and worked feverishly overnight to assemble the genetic sequence.
The person, who had had the full two doses of the Moderna vaccine and wasn’t yet due for a booster shot, is improving, California officials said.