Global stock markets were reeling once again Tuesday morning due to fears surrounding the spread of COVID-19’s Omicron variant.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 500 points at one point before paring back some of those losses. It was last seen about 300 points, or 0.9 percent, lower as of 7:35 a.m.
Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
The recent slide in the markets came after Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times that he expects existing vaccines to be less effective against the new variant.
He added that he doesn’t have the data on that yet, but speculated there could be a “material drop” in the current vaccines’ effectiveness against this variant.
Shares of Moderna were 3 percent lower in premarket trading Tuesday.
Separately, Regeneron said the effectiveness of its monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 may be reduced due to Omicron.
The latest bout of frenzied trading followed a familiar pattern: so-called stay-at-home stocks like Peloton and Zoom gained while travel stocks and other companies with major exposure to the global economic recovery led the decline.
On Monday, President Joe Biden said economic lockdowns are off the table for now, and there will be no new travel restrictions.
He also called the new variant a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” and urged Americans to get vaccine booster shots.
Flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci, Biden acknowledged at his Monday news briefing that it would be “a few weeks before we know everything we need to know about” about the new variant.
“In the event, hopefully unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond in this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool,” Biden said.
The new COVID variant was first detected in South Africa and has since been found in more than a dozen countries, and spurred travel restrictions in many parts of the world.
The World Health Organization has designated Omicron a “variant of concern,” though officials have urged patience as scientists find more out about the variant.