COVID-19 Delta Variant Leading To Border Closings, No Fans At Olympics, Travel Worries

Just when many people thought it was safe to ditch the masks and return to life as they knew it before the COVID-19 pandemic, the delta variant of the coronavirus is threatening to turn back the clock to the spring of 2020, when lockdowns and social distancing crippled the global economy.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech are working on a booster shot targeting the delta variant of the virus, and with fears about another resurgence of the virus sweeping across the world this summer, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have banned fans from the Games and opening ceremony and declared a state of emergency across the nation.

The CDC and FDA said in a joint statement Thursday (July 8) that fully-vaccinated Americans “do not need a booster shot at this time,” but booster doses will be available “if and when the science demonstrates they are needed.”

Pfizer and BioNTech will begin clinical trials on a third vaccine dose next month.

Inside the Numbers

Businesses and consumers don’t want COVID variants — or any other obstacles — to get in the way of reopening, growing and leaving the pandemic behind.

The May edition of PYMNTS’ ongoing coronavirus report series, “Pandenomics After Vaccines: What Mass Vaccination Means For Main Street Merchants,” showed 61 percent of respondents in the technology sector and 56 percent in manufacturing are “very likely to invest (in their businesses) in the next six months.”

The report showed that 60 percent of the 530 Main Street SMBs who responded to the Pandenomics survey “believe vaccinations will be successful and are very likely to invest in their businesses in the near future.”

Despite some dire predictions about the travel industry, including the United Nations saying the global travel industry will lose $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion this year, Ralf Peters of UNCTAD’s trade analysis branch told Reuters he expects a turnaround in some sectors before the end of 2021.

“There is an expectation of a certain recovery in the second half of the year, at least for North America and Europe to a certain extent,” he said.

No-Fan Olympics

Japan’s state of emergency will run from Monday (July 12) through Aug. 22, said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. It’s primarily targeted keeping at bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors that serve alcohol closed, but will also affect Olympic venues, including $1.4 billion National Stadium.

“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” he said.

About 15 percent of Japanese residents are fully vaccinated, compared to 47.4 percent in the U.S. and almost 50 percent in Britain.

The IOC says more than 80 percent of Olympic Village residents — including 11,000 Olympians, 4,400 Paralympians, officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters and media — will be vaccinated.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, has said in the past it’s “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic, but the IOC would lose $3 to $4 billion if the Olympics were canceled.

Border Restrictions and Vax Requirements

Meanwhile, China is keeping its border restrictions for at least another year, meaning another Olympic host could find itself without fans when the 2022 Winter Games kick off in February. China is also slated to make its 10-year transfer of power in the Chinese Communist Party at the end of this year.

Concerns about a virus resurgence aren’t just happening overseas, though. Morgan Stanley employees and clients who aren’t vaccinated can’t enter the company’s offices in New York as of Monday (July 12), according to an internal memo obtained by the Financial Times.

The company has also put in place vaccine-only workspaces in some areas like institutional securities and wealth management, FT reported.