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COVID-19 vaccine makers are racing to develop boosters that incorporate the ability to fight the new Omicron variant. Meanwhile, epidemiologists and President Biden are urging Americans not to wait to get their shots.
Suzanne Judd is an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. She was unequivocal when asked if people should wait for Omicron-fighting shots:
“Absolutely not,” she told Yahoo Finance Live. “In the United States, the number one concern is Delta. Omicron is not even really here yet.”
Her comments were echoed by Biden when he commented Monday about the threat of the Omicron variant, and said vaccines and boosters provide the best protection.
Judd’s attention remains focused on the spread of the Delta variant in the U.S., where COVID cases have ticked up 3% over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times analysis of public health data. The Northeast, Midwest and the state of Michigan are seeing particular increases.
“We continue to see these waves in the U.S. where one region has a very high load and then it spreads to another region,” Judd said. That’s one of the reasons we don’t ever really stamp it out.”
As for Omicron, Judd, like other public health experts, cautioned that it's too early to know how severe it may be, either in terms of ease of spread or severity of illness.
From one investor's perspective, the potential continued demand for boosters is a good reason to buy a basket of biotech stocks.
"A lot of these companies that are developing COVID vaccines and COVID treatments may be benefitting from an investible market that is larger than people have penciled in," said Anastasia Amoroso, iCapital Network's chief investment strategist. She recommends investors consider the iShares Biotechnology ETF (IBB).
"Also, is this only a 2022 story of boosters? That may not end up being the case if we end up with something like an annual booster shot. We don't know yet, but we can't rule it out," she said.