LIVE: New Covid-19 variant triggers global alarm, AstraZeneca takes stock

The discovery of a new Coronavirus (Covid-19) variant named Omicron triggered global alarm on Friday as countries rushed to suspend travel from southern Africa and stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic suffered their biggest falls in more than a year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Omicron may spread more quickly than other forms, and preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection.
AstraZeneca said on Friday it was examining the impact of a new Coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly in South Africa on its vaccine and its antibody cocktail, adding it was hopeful its combination drug would retain efficacy. The WHO on Friday designated a new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529, detected in South Africa with a large number of mutations, as being “of concern”.