The Economist / What to do about Covid-19’s threatening new variant
- The recent identification of a new and potentially dangerous variant of covid-19 in South Africa took place within days. Travel bans followed within hours.
- The admirable work of South Africa’s scientists and their exemplary openness, along with the rapid recognition that Omicron poses a genuine threat, show that the world has learnt a lot about dealing with pandemics in the past two years.
- However, the very fact that Omicron was spotted early, using sparse data, means that its true nature will remain unclear without further research. The real test of pandemic preparedness will be how wisely the world uses the time it has won.
- One task is to answer some pressing questions. The most important is whether Omicron will displace the Delta variant, which is causing 2.5m cases a week in Europe alone. Early evidence in South Africa suggests it spreads very fast indeed.
- The New York Times – Apoorva Mandavilli / Will the vaccines stop Omicron? Scientists are racing to find out.
Bloomberg – Garfield Clinton Reynolds / Markets unwind part of Friday’s selloff as variant fears ease
- Treasury yields marched higher with stocks and crude oil Monday as traders deemed Friday’s tumble went too far, amid reports the omicron variant could be less dangerous than the delta mutation.
- The benchmark 10-year yield jumped as much as 7 basis points to 1.54%. That unwound some of Friday’s 16 basis point plunge — the steepest since March 2020. U.S. equity futures climbed, with contracts on the Nasdaq 100 regaining more than half the Nov. 26 losses, while oil rebounded more than 5%.
- South African health experts, including the doctor who first sounded the alarm about the omicron variant, indicated that symptoms linked to the coronavirus strain have been mild so far.
- “The ‘shoot first, question later’ reflex on Friday has abated at the margin,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore. “Essentially, this is the morning after where passions are tempered, although caution is not completely dispensed with.”
- The Economist / Three threats to the global economic recovery
Financial Times – Anna Gross and Laura Hughes / EU ministers call for deal with UK to tackle migrant crisis
- EU ministers meeting in Calais called for a new agreement with the UK on Sunday to tackle the surge of migrants trying to cross the Channel to England from France in small boats.
- Four days after 27 people died when a dinghy capsized, Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said European authorities would work towards “an even more intense” battle against people smugglers organising boat crossings for migrants across the Channel.
- He said concrete decisions had been taken to improve surveillance of how smugglers buy and transport boats, and ministers had agreed that a new UK-EU migration policy framework was needed in the coming weeks.
- “Great Britain left political Europe, but it did not leave the world,” he said, adding that the UK also had to create routes for displaced people to apply for asylum. France has suggested that the UK send protection officers to France to process asylum requests in advance so that migrants do not risk their lives trying to reach England.
- The New Yorker – Ian Urbina / The secretive prisons that keep migrants out of Europe
Politico – Carmen Paun / Omicron raises concerns about global vaccine equity and hesitancy
- Global health experts say the emergence of the Omicron variant in southern Africa is a byproduct of unheeded warnings about vaccine inequity they’ve said could fuel public health crises in the developing world and prolong the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Africa remains the most under-vaccinated region of the world, with some 7 percent of its 1.3 billion people fully immunized, while North America has vaccinated about 54 percent of its population, according to Our World in Data.
- While developed nations committed to donate some of their excess doses and the U.S. bought 1 billion Pfizer-BioNTech shots for the rest of the world, only around half a billion doses overall have reached developing nations so far.
- After waiting on supplies for months, South Africa, at the epicenter of the new outbreak, now has enough doses of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but the number of people getting shots is about 120,000 per day, less than half of the government’s target of 300,000 per day.
- Euractiv / WHO reaches draft consensus on future pandemic treaty
- Project Syndicate – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus / Building a better global health framework