According to OECD “if the influence of the Omicron virus causes a worldwide catastrophe, there are two conceivable outcomes: one is where it creates more supply disruptions and prolongs higher inflation for longer and the other where it is more severe and we have to use more mobility restrictions, in which case demand could decline and inflation could actually recede much faster than what we have here.”
“Omicron” is a new covid variant, first detected in South Africa and Hong Kong by the World Health Organization (WHO). Firstly WHO said that this new variant is highly transmissible at least four times than Delta and contains such mutations that could lead to higher global risk. Omicron was first reported on November 24 from South Africa, where infections have risen. It has since spread to more than sixty countries, many of which have imposed travel restrictions to try to shut themselves down.
Many countries have already announced that they would close their borders to foreigners to reduce the risk of Omicron. Recently it has been observed that the Omicron variant is milder than the Delta variant, booster shot of the vaccine could act as a protective shield against it but studies on its transmissibility and severity are still underway, so countries must take precautionary measures to reduce the threat. On the other hand, experts say that fewer cases of Omicron variant have been reported than Delta variant in South Africa either because it is milder or it may be due to other factors, such as the youngest population in the country, many of whom are already infected and therefore had gained natural immunity.
How it fuels previous covid conspiracy theories?
Omicron fuels old covid conspiracy theories, since 2019, when covid-19 was first detected in the Wuhan city of China, many conspiracy theories came out regarding this deadly virus. Some people believed that Covid-19 was a pre-planned variant. It is said that there was a research institute named Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) where research had been conducted on bat coronaviruses for more than a decade.
The institute was 40 minutes from the wet market in Huanan, where Wuhan’s first set of infections was created. Some people support this theory and believe that this virus was leaked from the labs of Wuhan Institute of Virology while others believe that this variant was purely collected from the wild animals. This conspiracy theory was promoted by the US-President of that time, Donald Trump; he claimed that China created this virus as a biological weapon.
Different conspiracy theories have emerged since then including natural origin theory. Recently in the mid of 2021 anti-vaccine activists shared the photograph, claiming that the epidemic was engineered by big interests and that new strains of the disease were all part of a sinister scheme. Omicron’s expansion has also rekindled this old conspiracy idea on social media. Some social media users have taken advantage of the situation to share a picture based on a conspiracy theory about the virus that is being planned. The picture, which has circulated on social media since July, depicts a table written in Spanish with alleged “launch” dates for the several COVID-19 types. It mentions omicron and gives a date of May 2022.
Furthermore, another conspiracy theory states that Omicron’s letters “o”, “m”, and I denote “occlusion” and “myocardial infarction,” respectively, and that new variants are responsible for rare side effects, such as rare blood and coagulation disorder, just like some vaccines of covid-19 have affected a few people. While many of the purported release dates of the variants are far different than when the strains were actually detected. And while the exact origin of COVID-19 is still unclear, there’s consensus it wasn’t planned. That’s why experts deny all these conspiracy theories and claim them to be false.
Why does Omicron need to taken seriously?
The discovery of the Omicron coronavirus, classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern,” has caused widespread concern around the world (WHO). Leading scientists have issued a warning highlighting the high transmissibility of the virus and the limited access to the vaccine worldwide. If the Omicron form of coronavirus grows more severe than projected, several countries throughout the world may be forced to implement harsher controls or lockdown. It will be a significant hit to demand goods and services and will dampen economic activity, as was seen during the pandemic’s early stages in 2019-2020.
According to OECD “if the influence of the Omicron variety causes a worldwide catastrophe, there are two conceivable outcomes: One is where it creates more supply disruptions and prolongs higher inflation for longer. And one where it is more severe and we have to use more mobility restrictions, in which case demand could decline and inflation could actually recede much faster than what we have here.”
How is the world dealing with this new variant?
However, the travel and tourism sector has already been setback by the omicron variant. Austria has extended the lockdown. Israel has once again closed its borders to foreign visitors that caused damage to the tourism sector, with tourists and pilgrims planning trips to Hanukkah and Christmas. Pakistan also banned travel from certain countries in the wake of the threat of new covid variants. Pakistan has categorized countries to impose travel restrictions in categories A, B and C.
Travelers from the specified countries must be fully vaccinated, and all passengers aged 6 and up (locals/foreigners) must have a negative PCR test report (no more than 48 hours old) before boarding, according to the new regulations. Deportees, on the other hand, are free from the PCR test/report obligation. Despite all these strict travel restrictions, Pakistan reported its first Omicron case in a lady who is a resident of Karachi.
This news caused panic among the citizens and made them more cautious about SOPs. People are also seeking the booster shot of vaccines as the government declared booster shots more vulnerable against the Omicron variant. While more responsibility lies on the media, it should avoid spreading misinformation as people rely more on the media than any other source of information.
The writer has a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad who has a keen interest in international developments. She currently works at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space