"We'll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion," Biden said at the White House.
But even amid the critical nature of the new variant, Biden did not state the right name of the variant. "It's called the Omicron," he said, inserting an extra "n" – a mistake his coronavirus advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was standing in the background, also committed on Sunday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that the new variant has a "severe" risk to the world's pandemic recovery, and the chances of it being contagious enough to grow fast are "very high". Hours after the speech the CDC established their guidance to suggest that all adults get a booster.
Omicron, which was first recognized in South Africa but is thought to have originated in Botswana, is the most-mutated form of Covid yet discovered and has been declared a "variant of concern" by the WHO because early data suggests it is more infectious than the Delta strain.
South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the variant propels a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations in hot spots within the country. Gauteng, the province where the COVID-19 variant was first discovered, has experienced a more than 300 percent increase in virus-related hospitalizations this week.
The number of children hospitalized with Covid has also grown clearly around South Africa's capital city of Pretoria. However, the NICD said not all are at danger of severe disease and some cases could just be out of an abundance of care.
When Biden spoke to the US on Monday he said: "You have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster," Biden said, speaking to the nation from the White House Roosevelt Room, which now features a fireplace screen decked out with holiday decorations.
But he warned: "This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," and said no additional measures were currently needed.
Asked if lockdowns were off the table, Biden responded: "Yes, for now … If people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there’s no need for lockdowns."
Nevertheless, Moderna's CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC just today that he's worried the vaccines currently free may not do enough to protect people from the newly-altered virus – the antibodies Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine generates to fight against it could be eight times lower against Omicron.