Concerns grow over new South African COVID-19 variant

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new COVID-19 variant in South Africa has prompted dozens of countries to impose travel restrictions. It’s been officially classified as the Omicron Variant. 22News found out what local infectious disease experts have to say and why this variant may be impacting your investments.

“We talked about this many months ago that this was possible, and it’s happening right now,” said Dr. Armando Paez, Chief of the Infectious Disease Division at Baystate Health.

Health experts are warning that a new variant in South Africa could be more transmissible than any other strain. There have been no confirmed cases yet in the U.S, but it has spread to other countries.

“There are a few cases detected outside of South Africa, it’s in Botswana and Hong Kong as well,” said Dr. Paez. This South African variant makes it 30 for COVID-19 mutations. Dr. Paez said the lack of vaccines in underdeveloped countries is contributing to this.

“Other places where are no vaccines. These mutations will occur the virus will just evolve, we’re seeing this right now,” said Dr. Paez.

22News went to Raymond James to find out how these fears with the south African variant would impact stocks and crypto. They were surprised just how much of a market sell-off there was. But they said this could be a buying opportunity for an asset you believe in.

“I didn’t expect the sell-off we are getting right now, but this is what happens when people know what to be expected and they think they’re early on it. stocks went down 2 percent, and conversely, people jump right into bonds,” said Mark Teed, Senior Vice President of Raymond James & Associates.

Bonds shot up 10%, something that is viewed as a safer investment than stocks. But he still doesn’t think stock investors should be worried in the long-term. “People worry too much about short-term moves, this is just an emotional sell-off, driven by a newsworthy item,” said Teed.

The World Health Organization addressed the South African variant in a meeting today, calling it a “variant of concern.” When it comes to stocks, hotel, restaurant, and airline stocks saw the biggest losses, as well as cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin and Ethereum.


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