The Impacts of the Omicron Variant for Startups

As a founder, you may be asking, “What should do now that Omicron is here?” That is, in addition to crying or complaining if you’re a travel or in-person-office startup who expects this to affect your area. Just kidding. (Maybe.)

Now, we aren’t public health experts, but we have seen how COVID-19 has played out just like everyone else, especially the impact the Delta variant had. With information on Omicron still evolving (and quite rapidly), it’s can be difficult to avoid guessing how Omicron itself is different in order to actually make any decisions.​

Omicron Scenarios

At this point, between early data from Israelaggregated guesses by prediction markets, and weighed responses from people who have gotten the past waves right, we’re looking at a strain that is:

  • Similarly or more infectious than the Delta variant
  • Potentially vaccine evasive, though boosters seem to work okay
  • Much more dangerous to unvaccinated or low-antibody individuals (low immune response from elderly, or individuals with drop-off immunity without boosters)

As far as we know, these points are more or less consensus. Although this doesn’t tell us much, it does tell us that it isn’t either: 1) a killer virus that will murder everyone and require us to go into post-apocalyptic Fallout-style lock-downs, or 2) something that is of purely no (marginal) consequence.​As such, it’s somewhere in the middle. We might get more (potentially brief) lockdowns, COVID-theater travel bans (given they haven’t ever worked, and the exceptions make them uselessly porous), and faster booster rollout (maybe with strain-specific vaccines).​

It’s Mostly More of the Same

It may seem like we’re going back into the same response and mode of living we did when Delta first came about. However, the thing is, the impact of Delta hasn’t really subsided. There’s still a massive portion of the world that is unvaccinated—either by lack of supply or just by vaccine hesitancy, which has spread throughout the world. Daily confirmed cases have not really come down significantly since the Delta variant started surging. Vaccines have prevented significant deaths and overwhelmed hospitals to some degree, but we’re still at over 1000 deaths per day in the US. Delta didn’t “go away” before Omicron showed up.

We were already starting to “return to normal” even though the COVID-19 situation—whether vaccination rates, infection rates, or death rates—hadn’t shifted significantly to justify it.​

As such, we don’t think there will be much significant, marginal change from what was already happening. Nonetheless, many other impacts are likely here to stay. For example, workers quitting to start their own businessesrobotics surging to deal with labor shortages appearing everywhere, or chronic supply shortages in everything from consumer goods to medical devices to critical chemicals.​

So what can you do while things continue to unfold? Like the rest of us, you’ll have to wait and see what happens and when. After all, this is a fluid, evolving situation. In the meantime, keep planning and moving forward with the information you have—but be ready to adjust in case new information lends itself to necessary, albeit less favorable accommodations…again.

Leave a Reply