Goldman Sachs Slams Omicron Panic: ‘Mutation Is Unlikely to Be More Malicious’

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This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. (NIAID-RML/AP/The Canadian Press)
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Investment bank Goldman Sachs has asserted that concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant likely are unfounded.

“This mutation is unlikely to be more malicious and … the existing vaccines will most likely continue to be effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” Goldman said in a Nov. 26 note. “We do not think that the new variant is sufficient reason to make major portfolio changes.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the Omicron strain, which was discovered in South Africa less than a week ago, as a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26, sparking travel bans to several African nations. The WHO also explained why it disrupted its naming convention to skip naming the latest variant “Xi” in accordance with the Greek alphabet, after critics said the U.N. health agency was attempting to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Gauteng, a city in South Africa, appears to be the Omicron epicenter for now. Goldman wrote that it “would monitor the situation in Gauteng closely over the next month” and that it doesn’t think “that the new variant is sufficient reason to make major portfolio changes.”

The WHO and top federal infectious diseases officials don’t yet know whether individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 will be susceptible to the Omicron variant, or whether common COVID-19 vaccines work against it. It’s also unclear if the variant causes more severe disease, although a top South African medical association doctor told news outlets that Omicron patients have had unusual but mild symptoms.

The variant, according to the WHO, has a large number of mutations compared to the Alpha and Delta strains. South African scientists have said it has an unusual combination of mutations on the spike protein that may make the virus capable of evading vaccines.

Early evidence, the WHO said in a statement, suggests that Omicron has a higher risk of reinfection compared to other variants such as the Delta or Alpha strains.

By Jack Phillips

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