We get the latest on the global reaction to the Omicron variant and discuss the growing unrest over the economic situation in Lebanon. Plus: the latest aviation news and a record-breaking week in the entertainment industry.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.
A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week: the venture-capital industry is being turbocharged, what the fate of star tennis-player Peng Shuai reveals about one-party rule in China (10’52) and, when a museum is on fire, how do you decide what to save? (19’09).
Monocle’s Emma Nelson and panelists on the weekend’s biggest discussion topics, live from London’s Midori House, which is gearing up for the second day of The Monocle Christmas Market.
Emma Nelson sets the tone for the weekend. Simon Brooke reviews the newspapers, Andrew Mueller rounds up what we’ve learned this week and Monocle’s editor in chief Andrew Tuck is back with his weekend column.