A new coronavirus variant is raising alarms around the globe, causing sharp financial market decline and spurring new travel restrictions aimed at countries in the southern Africa region after South African scientists said it was linked to an exponential rise in cases in their own country.
So far, the new strain, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, has also been located in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, and hong kong.
On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average had its worst day in over a year – tumbling more than 900 points over fears the new variant could derail the global economic recovery. A growing list of nations – including the United States, parts of the European Union, and Japan – have stopped or restricted flights from at least seven African countries to control omicron’s spread.
This latest outbreak is a reminder that no matter what the vaccination rate might be in the developed world, the pandemic is a global issue that won’t be behind us until immunity by vaccination or natural means is worldwide.
So where do we stand?
Currently, developed countries like China, Japan, France, Italy, South Korea, and Canada have fully immunized more than three-quarters of their populations.
In the United States, that number is currently 59%. According to Bloomberg, 110 of the 200 countries for which they have data are shy of 50% of their populations having full immunization. Of that number, 63 counties –including South Africa – have not even reached 25%. India is only at 31%. Russia is just 37% fully immunized. And of the 37 nations with less than 10% fully protected, 32 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Where slightly more than half the world population has at least one dose, it means that nearly 3.4 billion people have had no vaccination and are most vulnerable to infection and spread.
It’s all a reminder of Tom Friedman once having told us the world is flat.
And until the developed world inoculates its own – and extends itself to protecting the rest of the planet – this is our future.
Using the perfect blend of analysis and humor, Michael Smerconish delivers engaging, thought-provoking, and balanced dialogue on today’s political arena and the long-term implications of the polarization in politics. In addition to his acclaimed work as nationally syndicated Sirius XM Radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and New York Times best-selling author, Michael Smerconish hosts CNN’s Smerconish, which airs live on Saturday at 9:00 am ET.