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Still at the behest of the pandemic

The newest coronavirus variant, Omicron, might not turn out to be a great threat to our health but it could prove a threat to economic recovery. It’s impossible to tell yet how big or small a problem it will turn out to be, but one thing the development has underlined is how far we are from dry land when it comes to escaping the clutches of the pandemic.

The sea of red that hit trading screens on more than one occasion over the past week reflects the real fears of business that 2022 might turn out to be 2020 and 2021 all over again, and the realisation that the Delta variant was not Covid playing its last card. New strains and mutations, whether harmless or dangerous, mean severe delays on the journey back to normality while scientists and pharmaceutical companies race to catch up.

We might resent the return of curbs and costly tests but the pandemic stats are grim. WHO – which isn’t convinced that the Omicron variant won’t have severe consequences – reports that globally there have been 260.9m cases of Covid-19 and 5.2m deaths. But 7.7bn doses of vaccine have been administered and the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been highly effective in preventing hospitalisation and deaths from the variants to date. 

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