It's an old saying, that generals fight the current way using the tactics they learned from the previous one.
When Covid first hit, the world was slow to react, because the relatively simple nature of SARS and MERS had taught us a set of lessons, how to deal with a Pandemic. But Covid-19 was a new beast, and it took time to get everyone (or mostly everyone, roll eyes) to realise the dangerous nature of this new beast.
Now, we get a new variant, Omicron. It was going to be called "Nu" because that was the next letter of the Greek alphabet, but it was pointed out that the potential confusion between "nu variant" and "new variant" was a needless headache, so we get Omicron. (Someone did point out it was an anagram of moronic, but they were told to shut up and leave the room.)
This variant had 50 mutations, including many along the spike protein. And alarm bells were hit, but they were the sort of "We should definitely investigate this" alarm, not the "let's all shit our pants" alarm.
Unfortunately, we have learned the wrong lessons. As we always do.
Whereas with Covid-19, the world (and more importantly the stock market) were slow to react out of ignorance, this time the stock market reacted fast. Way too fast. While in a state of ignorance, the market reacted as if another lockdown was coming early for Christmas. And this triggered a series of small but inevitable panics that were as based on ignorance as last years apathy.
When the market starts to take a nosedive like this, it panics investors. And a series of computer algorithms making microsecond decisions based on trends, trigger sales. People want to get out, before the price drops. Which causes the price to drop. If steps are not taken, the market can go into freefall.
So steps are taken, to reassure the market. To reassure panicking investors. Steps like travel bans. Steps like "temporary" lockdown measures. Steps that say "Hey, we're taking this seriously. And it will be dealt with seriously."
Those decisions are not based on the science. Or information. They are based on reducing the fears of panicking investors.
So you will see in the coming weeks, a series of measures taken to reduce fear and uncertainty. But not much based on science. Omicron was discovered in South Africa, but it didn't come from there. Yet we get travel bans on South African countries. Now it will turn out that Omicron is already in Europe, Canada, America, whatever. Of course it is. And those countries where it is found, will take initial panic-based market calming measures. Travel bans, border closures, whatever.
But this Take is for you, the individual. The latest science is that Omicron is not worth shitting your pants over. There's no evidence that the vaccines are ineffective against it, and even the Chinese vaccine (Sinovac) is based on the entire genome not just the spike protein, so if you got their vaccine you're almost certainly covered.
Governments are forced by necessity to listen to a variety of sources, including the stock market. But you, the individual, can afford to listen to the science. We should start to get actual information in about two weeks. Look out for it. And by that I mean, from actual scientists, not your sister-in-laws neighbour Karen's Facebook feed.