Let’s talk about Omicron.
(If you’d rather not, scroll right down to the P.S. for something beautiful.)
Since the first known cases of COVID-19 were detected in China, we've seen a number of notable mutations as the virus moved across the world. Some, like beta and gamma, didn’t end up being a huge deal.1
Others, like delta, spread rapidly and caused new waves of infection.
Now we have another variant on our hands: Omicron. And it looks like this one might spread.
Unsurprisingly, markets reacted badly to the news last Friday and gave us our worst market day for the year, and the market continues to be somewhat volatile.2
Why? Fear. Fear that the virus will disrupt our economic and social recovery.
We’ve seen that pattern before and it’s worth keeping in your back pocket: bad news, especially over a holiday often leads to outsized market reactions.
Is Omicron dangerous? Are we back to square one?
Well, while there is a lot about this variant that we don't know yet, we are likely much better off than we were a year and a half ago.
Scientists will be examining the response of Omicron to currently available vaccines and treatments over the next several weeks.
It looks like Omicron is quite contagious, but vaccinated individuals appear protected from serious illness. There are also indications that unvaccinated folks that previously suffered from COVID infection are less protected from the Omicron variant .
This is definitely a bump in the road and we are all tired of this bumpy ride. While their could be impacts on travel, hospitality, and other parts of the economy we are not back to square one.
The market is laser-focused on Omicron chatter so we can expect rocky times until the uncertainty clears (or something else takes over the news).
So, what can we do?
Rather than try to predict the unknowable or speculate wildly without enough information, let's do something else instead.
Let's take a deep breath, step back, and focus on some ground truths:
Everyone is tired of this pandemic and ready to move on. But the pandemic's not done yet.
We will continue to see COVID-19 variants as long as we continue to have susceptible hosts for the virus. This is what viruses do. Most will fade into the background. Some will be more disruptive.
New vaccines and treatments are being developed and released at an accelerated pace.
We have been adapting to the virus for nearly two years and we'll continue to get better at it.
Life is a gift and every day is extraordinary in some way. Let's cherish that.
Hopefully, we'll look back in a few months and forget Omicron ever hit the headlines.
Until then, we wait, we watch, and we count our blessings.
I'll be in touch when there's more to share.
Daniel Ruben, MD, MPH, MBA
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P.S. Can I share something uplifting with you? A retired dad (who already fostered 30 kids) adopted five young siblings so they could grow up together.3 How beautiful is that?
P.P.S. Want to learn more about happiness and how to get off the hedonic treadmill? Check out one of the very first TED talks on the science of happiness. Thoughts? Hit "reply" and let me know.
Risk Disclosure: Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results. This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.