Global Economy 'Collectively Holding Its Breath' Over Omnicron Variant, CEO Says

The World Health Organization labeled the Covid-19 strain a 'variant of concern.'

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The omicron Covid-19 variant is causing some concern among European business owners as countries roll out their individual responses. As of Tuesday, there were 42 confirmed omicron variant cases in 10 European Union countries and authorities are looking at six other “probable” cases, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and control chair Andrea Ammon, who spoke during an online conference organized by the EU’s Slovenian presidency. 

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Those who do business in Europe will need to wait and see what impact, if any, the new variant has on their operations. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Biden administration's travel restrictions to South African nations "are designed to curb the spread of the latest Covid-19 variant in the United States," says Jonathan Manzi, CEO of Beyond Protocol, which recently partnered with the European Union Commission on a blockchain powered eBike charging station in Slovenia. "Small- and mid-size businesses with revenue streams tied to travel between these markets will be affected. A 10 percent reduction in revenue can put service businesses on the ropes if they don't have the reserves to weather the storm, which few small businesses do.”

He went on, telling Entrepreneur Europe, “Should the variant worsen and restrictions broaden, the Biden administration will need to provide a framework for relief and stimulus to blunt the impact to industry. As we saw with the restrictions imposed with the initial outbreak of Covid, stimulus is far from a silver bullet. I think the global economy is collectively holding its breath right now to see how things might play out."

So far, tensions appear to have eased in the days since the World Health Organization called the strain a “variant of concern” on Friday. On Saturday, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association and the expert who first sounded the alarm on the variant, appeared on the BBC and said all of the patients she’s seen with it so far have displayed “extremely mild symptoms.”

By Monday, European stocks were closing higher, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closing up by 0.8 percent. Global stock prices, however, were in a slump by Tuesday, demonstrating that concern about the virus and its new variant is still having an impact on business.