Europe recorded its first case of the fast-spreading new coronavirus variant and dozens of countries restricted travel to and from southern Africa—where it was first detected—amid concerns that it could be more contagious than previous strains and render Covid-19 vaccines less effective.
White House officials have been discussing imposing travel restrictions on countries in southern Africa, and are expected to meet with agency officials this afternoon to make a recommendation, people familiar with the matter said.
Germany’s BioNTech SE, which developed one of the most commonly used Covid-19 vaccines together with Pfizer Inc., said it would take about two weeks to establish whether the new variant renders its shot less effective. If needed, a BioNTech spokeswoman said, the companies could produce a new vaccine adjusted to any variant within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days.
Data from South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases show how the new variant over the past two weeks quickly crowded out the highly transmissible Delta variant. It now makes up around 90% of infections in the country’s most populous province, home to its political and economic capitals of Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The European Union said Friday that it would propose activating an “emergency brake” to stop air travel between the 27-country bloc and the southern African region, citing concerns over B.1.1.529. Several member states have already moved to impose restrictions, following the U.K. and several countries in Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
Note that 357 more people died from the virus in Germany the last 24 hours.
In general, it is difficult to pin a one day move in the markets on anything, especially with valuations stretched across the board.
But global lockdowns and threats of them can easily be a trigger.
The US will not disconnect from global weakness any more than China disconnected from the global economy in 2007.
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