Biden said the most important factor in combating Omicron is getting vaccinations and booster shots.
For its part, the Center for Infectious Diseases (CDC) changed its position on the latter shots on Monday, now recommending that Americans over the age of 18 receive an additional dose of vaccine. However, it will not be for another two weeks before there is a clear picture of the transmissibility and severity of Omicron, and the effectiveness of existing vaccines against this new variant.
Meanwhile, in prepared testimony before the House Banking Committee, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the new Omicron variant poses risks of slowing economic activity and increased uncertainty about inflation. Powell said the concern could reduce the willingness to go to work in person, which could slow labour market progress and intensify pressures on supply chains.
In addition, Powell noted that the Delta variant previously restrained rapid consumption growth, although recent macroeconomic data suggested a post-September drop in contagion cases and a pick-up in economic growth. He continued to expect inflation to ease significantly in the coming year as supply pressures ease, although the factors that are pushing up inflation will persist well into the year. In addition, he noted that peak employment in terms of labour force participation is still some way off, but also noted that labour shortages are diminishing, and wages are rising strongly.