Omicron Spreads to 23 Countries, Including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sending Markets Into Slump
World stock prices and the price of oil reacted with sharp drops on Tuesday after Moderna warned that current vaccines could prove less effective against the new omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, raising concerns about the effect of the virus on the world’s economy in general and the demand for energy in particular. It is not yet known how contagious or virulent the variant is, nor how effective existing vaccines will be against it. It has been identified in 267 people across 23 countries and territories to date. In the MENA region, this includes Israel, where four cases have been detected, and Saudi Arabia, where the first case of the variant was announced on Wednesday. A citizen coming from an unnamed North African country brought the variant into the kingdom, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. He and his close contacts were quarantined.