Omicron Impacts

By Jawad Abbas, Staff Writer

Almost two years have passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as society was beginning to return back to normal, back to times before lockdown, the new Omicron variant of the virus has emerged, and is putting the world at bay.

The Omicron variant is the latest of the several mutations of the COVID-19 virus. Succeeding the former alpha, beta, gamma, delta, “delta-plus,” lambda and mu variants, scientists are trying to act as fast as possible to come up with a solution to combat the variant before it can spread. 

Early data has shown that the Omicron variant is even more contagious than all of its other COVID-19 counterparts. Early estimates for Omicron suggest a transmissibility that ranges from 66 per cent to more than 500 per cent higher than the Delta variant that preceded it. The World Health Organization (WHO) said “Omicron has been detected in 38 countries but there are no reported deaths so far from the new COVID-19 variant.” 

It has been reported that the new variant may be able to neutralize the effects of antibodies provided by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Pfizer is still sticking by its vaccine, stating that “[they] don’t expect that there will be a significant drop in effectiveness [of the vaccine].”  Unfortunately, Pfizer’s statement may not be completely true as tests are still being conducted. In the meantime, Pfizer and Moderna are recommending booster shots to protect civilians from catching the new variant.

Rising fears of the new variant have caused global markets to tank in the past few days. In the US, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 share indexes closed 1.9% lower. The tech-focused Nasdaq lost 1.6%. The UK’s FTSE 100 share index, Germany’s Dax, and France’s Cac 40 slipped more than 1.5% each before regaining ground, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 lost 1.5%, hitting its lowest level in nearly seven weeks. Tokyo’s Nikkei index closed down 1.6%, crude oil prices fell nearly 3%, and the Australian dollar hit a one-year low.

Torsten Slok, Chief Economist at Apollo Global Management, has reacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant and a shift in the Federal Reserve policy, stating that “[he worries] about markets because stock market valuations look relatively high.” If the Omicron variant is even more dangerous than it appears to be, society and global markets will suffer in similar fashion as when the pandemic first began.

Although it remains unlikely that the Omicron variant will cause the same amount of chaos as when the pandemic initially started, the new mutation in the virus is definitely more dangerous than any other variant that has been seen before. Another concern that arises from the emergence of the new variant is that the virus seems to mutate and spread new variants at a ridiculously fast rate. The Omicron variant marks the eighth variant of COVID-19 and it probably won’t be the last. With each mutation’s side effects strengthening, it remains to be seen how society will react to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant. Hopefully, another lockdown is not in the foreseeable future for Canada.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

One thought on “Omicron Impacts

  1. ” Pfizer is still sticking by its vaccine, stating that “[they] don’t expect that there will be a significant drop in effectiveness [of the vaccine].””

    Lol, it’s hard to drop below zero. Maybe AME could drive the effectiveness below zero.

    Like

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