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IMF chief says Omicron could dent global economic growth

CoronavirusDec 03, 2021 06:17PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Travellers receive tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a pre-departure testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, November 2/2

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The International Monetary Fund is likely to lower its global economic growth estimates due to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the global lender's chief said at the Reuters Next conference on Friday in another sign of the turmoil unleashed by the ever-changing pandemic.

Omicron has spread rapidly to at least 40 countries since it was first reported in South Africa last week, officials say, and many governments have tightened travel rules to try to keep it out.

"A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence, and in that sense, we are likely to see some downgrades of our October projections for global growth," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the conference.

Much remains unknown about Omicron. Researchers said it could have picked up genetic material from another virus, perhaps one that causes the common cold, which would allow it to more easily evade human immune system defences.

Parts of Europe and the United States are grappling with a wave of infections of the more familiar Delta variant. The new strain could further destabilize economies that are still emerging from COVID-19 related lockdowns and disruptions.

A corporate Christmas party in the Norwegian capital Oslo resulted in at least 13 infections, making it the biggest outbreak outside of South Africa, officials said.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters Next that the fast-spreading variant would have to become more transmissible to out-compete Delta, which accounts for 99% of current transmissions.

"We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we're in a different situation to a year ago," she said.

WHO's emergencies director Mike Ryan said there was no evidence that existing vaccines needed to be modified to fight Omicron. He said officials should work on getting more people inoculated with vaccines currently on the market.

"We need to focus on getting people most at risk vaccinated," Ryan said at a social media event.

However, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a United Nations briefing in Geneva that vaccine makers should prepare for the likelihood of adjusting their products.

Ugur Sahin, CEO of Germany's BioNTech, which makes a COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), told Reuters Next https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/biontech-ceo-says-can-adapt-vaccine-quickly-omicron-2021-12-03the company should be able to adapt the shots relatively quickly.

Sahin also said current vaccines should continue to provide protection against severe disease, despite mutations.

"I believe in principle at a certain timepoint we will need a new vaccine against this new variant. The question is how urgent it needs to be available," Sahin said.

WORRYING GAPS IN VACCINATION

Australia became the latest country to report community transmission of the new variant. Officials have found the new strain in 10 U.S. states, adding another challenge to a healthcare system that is already dealing with more COVID-19 illness caused by Delta.

More than 264 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus since it was first detected in central China in late 2019 and 5.49 million people have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Cases in Europe, the pandemic's current epicentre, crossed the 75 million mark on Friday.

Vaccination rates vary from country to country but there are worrying gaps in poorer nations. Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and once Asia's COVID-19 epicentre, has fully inoculated only about 35% of its population.

In the United States, fewer than 60% of the population have been fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates among wealthy nations.

Aside from wreaking havoc in the travel industry, the clampdown has pounded financial markets and undermined major economies just as they were beginning to recover from the lockdowns triggered by Delta.

Germany said it would bar the unvaccinated from all but essential businesses, and legislation to make vaccination mandatory would be drafted for early next year.

Several countries, including Britain and the United States, were bringing forward plans to offer booster shots, but, like travel bans, they are controversial.

Many scientists say the way to stop the virus spreading is to make sure poorer countries have access to vaccines, not to give blanket booster shots to people in richer countries.

IMF chief says Omicron could dent global economic growth
 

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Comments (12)
Sample Sciences
Sample Sciences Dec 03, 2021 11:28PM ET
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This is all because they want the global economy to be dented so they can default on debt and be everyone that they can build back better.
Maks Mars
Maks Mars Dec 03, 2021 10:52AM ET
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New Babau Omicron is very dangerous they are just hiding the truth….
Alex Growth
Alex Growth Dec 03, 2021 9:49AM ET
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F you WHO amd who is manipulatimg u. I lost all my money because of u. Go to H*
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Dec 03, 2021 9:37AM ET
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oh he does? great I feel so much better now. I was waiting for some doctor that the media reports saying that. SMH. scamdemic
Jo Pa
Jo Pa Dec 03, 2021 9:22AM ET
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In late February 2020, WHO said, 'Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China'
Special Forces
Special Forces Dec 03, 2021 8:13AM ET
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looks like another surge of rebellious republican deaths, humm
Jo Pa
Jo Pa Dec 03, 2021 8:13AM ET
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Majority of deaths are in blue states. According to CDC studies, 3 out of 4 cases are among the vaccinated.
Special Forces
Special Forces Dec 03, 2021 8:13AM ET
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incorrect...don't believe it get vaccinated
Jose Maderno
Jose Maderno Dec 03, 2021 7:58AM ET
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So, Reuters is selling Omicron as the end of the world, as did WHO, but now a vaccination will save you?  The J&J jab didn't save anyone in South Africa.... or did it?  This is what happens when news media lies all the time... they forget what the purpose of the lie was to begin with.  Omicron is terrible, travel restrictions required...but, oh, the vaccine will save you.  But, I thought the vaccine hadn't been tested against Omi yet.  It is all a lie... read the news out of Israel...you will get no truth from Reuters.
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Dec 03, 2021 7:58AM ET
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One thing.. it's a therapy. Not a vax. The fastest ever brought to market and by one company Moderna who had never made anything before.
William Bicknell
William Bicknell Dec 03, 2021 7:44AM ET
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the vax hasn't worked yet...well maybe it has...definitely *****alot of people and ruining their immune system
Matthew Price
Matthew Price Dec 03, 2021 5:41AM ET
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they are hiding the vaccine trial data, wake up
John Laurens
John Laurens Dec 03, 2021 5:09AM ET
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except that all the people catching the Omnicron (Xi) strain are vaccinated.. The way to have better odds with 'rona than the flu is to not be fat and lazy.
Tony Cheng
Tony Cheng Dec 03, 2021 3:26AM ET
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Quit spreading lies like Trump without any proof, you Germs are all alike.
Erski Gumby
SB20 Dec 03, 2021 3:26AM ET
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Go see Fauci ASAP. I’m sure he has a Trump vaccine just for you. You poor thing.
Oldfashioned Owl
Oldfashioned Owl Dec 03, 2021 2:46AM ET
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Disband WHO.
 
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