Omicron: Latest key information on the variant that’s creating panic in the market

Omicron: Latest key information on the variant that’s creating panic in the market - The new covid-19 interest variant, called Omicron, sent the markets into a tailspin last week, and is likely to remain the main focus for investors this week.

As there was a lot of news on this subject over the weekend, here is an update on the latest key information about the covid-19 Omicron variant and its impact on stock exchanges and financial markets.

Omicron covid-19 virus spreads rapidly

The situation is evolving rapidly, but the Omicron variant, first spotted in South Africa, has so far been officially detected in the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not yet know whether it will cause a more or less severe Covid-19 than other strains. This implies that the virus has probably already spread to most countries in the world, according to several experts.

Israel bans foreigners from entering the country for at least 14 days

Since midnight on Sunday, Israel is now refusing the entry of foreigners into its country. The Israeli cabinet in charge of the fight against the coronavirus adopted a series of new restrictions during a crisis meeting late Saturday.

In addition to the entry ban for non-Israelis, a mandatory three-day quarantine will be required for all vaccinated Israeli nationals, and a seven-day quarantine for those who have not been vaccinated.

The cabinet also authorised the monitoring of confirmed coronavirus patients by the Israeli security agency Shin Bet.

Dr Fauci warns to expect anything

Americans must be prepared to do "anything and everything" to fight the omicron variant of Covid, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, but said it was "too early to tell" whether containment measures or new mandates would be appropriate.

The US had already announced that it would restrict the travel of non-US citizens from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

On the presence of the virus in the US, Fauci said "Inevitably, it will be there. The question is whether we will be prepared for it. If and when, and it will be, it will get here, I hope we will be ready.

New vaccines against covid-19 Omicron already being tested

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX ) said they are investigating omicron, and can adapt their vaccine quickly if necessary: "We understand the concern of experts and have immediately launched investigations into the B.1.1.529 variant," the companies said.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect new data from the laboratory tests within two weeks and that they could adapt their mRNA vaccine in six weeks and start shipping batches within 100 days if tests show it is necessary.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:NYSE: JNJ ) said it was already testing its omicron vaccine: "We are closely monitoring new emerging strains of COVID-19 virus with variations of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are already testing the efficacy of our vaccine against the new, fast-spreading variant first detected in southern Africa," J&J said.

AstraZeneca (LON:LON: AZN ) said it was also investigating the variant. Its vaccine platform, developed with Oxford University, allows it to respond quickly to new mutations as they emerge, the company said: "AstraZeneca is already conducting research in the locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini," the company said.

Finally, as for Moderna Inc ( NASDAQ :NASDAQ: MRNA ), the company said on Sunday that it may launch a reformulated vaccine against the omicron variant of the coronavirus early next year: "We should know the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection within the next couple of weeks, but the remarkable thing about the MRNA vaccines, the Moderna platform, is that we can move very quickly," the company told the BBC. "If we're going to make a brand new vaccine, I think it's going to be early 2022 before it's really available in large quantities," Moderna added.

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