Dow Today – What We Know About the Virus Variant Rocking Markets: QuickTake
Here’s what we know so far:
1. What’s different about this variant?
Scientists say B.1.1.529 carries a high number of mutations in its
2. Where did it come from?
There’s only speculation so far. One scientist at the UCL Genetics Institute in London said it likely evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient. South Africa has
3. How widespread is it?
Early PCR test results showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported Wednesday in the South African province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the new variant, according to
4. How have markets responded?
News of the new variant roiled financial markets Friday as equity benchmarks dropped across the board, with cyclicals and small-caps taking the brunt of the rout. The S&P 500 Index declined 2.1% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 2.5%. Treasuries surged, with the 10-year yield dropping 13 basis points. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar falling. Oil tumbled and gold climbed.
5. How are other countries responding?
The UK. issued a
6. How worrisome is this variant?
It’s too early to say. The World Health Organization said there are fewer than 100 whole genomic sequences of the new strain available, which could add to the time it takes to study how it compares to previous strains and its impact on Covid therapies and vaccines. Viruses mutate all the time, with the changes sometimes making the virus weaker or sometimes making it more adept at evading antibodies and infecting humans.
7. What should we look out for next?
In the U.S., which recently lifted a year-long ban on tourism from much of the world, top medical adviser
The Reference Shelf
- A Bloomberg Opinion
columnby David Fickling on Covid variants.
- Bloomberg Intelligence says we should worry about the
(Adds market reaction.)
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Paul Geitner, Guy Collins
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