Trend watch and what's new this week
Internationally, the omicron variant has been linked to cases in South Africa and nearly a dozen other countries, including Canada. While initial research indicates that the omicron variant is more transmissible, the symptoms are reportedly milder than prior strains. More importantly, current vaccines appear to blunt the severity and greatly decrease the death rate.
Meanwhile, virus trends in the U.S have sharply declined nationally and regionally. We caution the Thanksgiving holiday may have artificially depressed testing, which would lead to fewer cases. However, deaths and hospitalizations have also dropped sharply.
Holding to seasonal norms, overall economic activity has continued to ramp higher, which should crest in mid-December and taper off quickly near year-end.
The emergence of the omicron variant appears to solidify the effectiveness and necessity of COVID-19 vaccines, which limits severe outcomes (deaths and hospitalization). Two thirds of all Americans are fully vaccinated and over one-quarter of adults have already received a booster.
Our base case remains that the lockdowns will not happen in the U.S., similar to last summer’s surge due to the delta variant. That said, we wouldn’t rule out regional or localized restrictions by certain cities or states. As we’ve repeatedly mentioned here, COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, but the world does seem to be managing it better.
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