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Opinion
Niall Ferguson

Omicron Sounds the Death Knell for Globalization 2.0

On top of an intensifying cold war between the U.S. and China and other seismic changes, the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant could finish off our most recent phase of global integration.

 

Cape Town International Airport, South Africa, Dec. 3, 2021

Cape Town International Airport, South Africa, Dec. 3, 2021

Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Somewhere out there,” I wrote here two weeks ago, “may lurk what I grimly call the ‘omega variant’ of SARS-CoV-2: vaccine-evading, even more contagious than delta, equally or more deadly. According to the medical scientists I read and talk to … the probability of this nightmare scenario is very low, but it is not zero.”

Indeed. Little did I know, but even as I wrote those words something that appears to fit this description was spreading rapidly in South Africa’s Gauteng province: not the omega variant, but the omicron variant.