Omicron

Basic information

        Omicron is the newest variant of COVID-19 with the highest transmissibility due to its large number of mutations.  During the past week ( Dec 22- Dec29 ), the increase of  COVID-19 cases in the US reached more than 265,000 due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. The cases in New York take almost ten percent of the total increase ( 25,184 cases on average in the past week ), creating a time of crisis in the city. 

        With the celebration of Christmas, there will only be more people who carry the virus without knowing and spreading it to others. Moreover, many people who took the vaccine might think so, but as CDC stated on Dec 28, the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccine has only 35 percent effectiveness against the omicron, which is pretty low. 

        However, a booster would raise its effectiveness to 75 percent, encouraging many people to get a booster shot. Getting the booster and staying at home might be the most effective way to keep people away from the new variant. 

Effects on economics

        Every year has a Black Friday, but it is rare to see two Black Fridays happening on the same day. Thanks to the new Omicron variant, people got a chance to experience the sharp drop in the U.S. stock market the last Black Friday. Black Friday’s stock market takes its name because the U.S. stock market got destroyed on Nov. 26, with the Dow falling more than 900 points (about 2.5 percent) and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq markets each falling by about 2.2 percent. (Sloan) The discovery of this new variant did not only influence the U.S. stock market but the world stock market as a whole. More than that, the uncertainty brought by omicron changes people’s lives from multiple perspectives.

Traveling Restrictions 

        During the primary holiday season of the year, the highly transmissible variant omicron forces people to change their traveling plans. This Christmas was supposed to be the first trip for many families since the COVID outbreak, but the new variant with unknown properties keeps people away from their long longing desires. The recently loosened travel restrictions will be back again in some countries. Canada, which just opened on November 30th, will re-close again on December 21st. (Blatchford)

Characteristics of Omicron

        From panicking to accepting the presence of this new variant, more and more understanding of Omicron becomes available. First of all, Omicron is indeed highly transmissible, but it is not as deathly and transmissible as people claimed before. “The public health agency’s previous estimate that the rapidly spreading variant accounted for 73.2 percent of cases nationwide on Dec. 18 is now revised down to 22.5 percent — a significant drop that falls outside the agency’s earlier 95 percent prediction interval, or likely range where future analysis will fall, of 34 to 94.9 percent of all cases.” (Lim) Even though the transmission rate of omicron is not that high, the U.S. still reached its highest level of new cases on record on December 26th. (Foody) The good news is that although the number of cases is increasing, the hospitalization rate is not as high as before. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day average of new cases hit 206,577 on Sunday, roughly 18% lower than the all-time high recorded on Jan. 11. Meanwhile, hospitalizations rose to a seven-day average of 8,964, only half their earlier peak recorded in January. (Querolo)