AKIPRESS.COM - The International Monetary Fund is likely to lower its global economic growth estimates due to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the global lender's chief said at the Reuters Next conference on Friday in another sign of the turmoil unleashed by the ever-changing pandemic.
Omicron has spread rapidly to at least 40 countries since it was first reported in South Africa last week, officials say, and many governments have tightened travel rules to try to keep it out.
"A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence, and in that sense, we are likely to see some downgrades of our October projections for global growth," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the conference.
Much remains unknown about Omicron. Researchers said it could have picked up genetic material from another virus, perhaps one that causes the common cold, which would allow it to more easily evade human immune system defences.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters Next that the fast-spreading variant would have to become more transmissible to out-compete Delta, which accounts for 99% of current transmissions.