COVID: Davos meeting called off due to omicron variant

The World Economic Forum (WEF) will not host its annual meeting in Davos as planned in January, the organization announced on Monday.

The event, which draws politicians, business executives and other major global players, has been moved back as worries grow over the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

What did organizers say?

The meeting in the Swiss resort town of Davos was slated to take place from January 17 to 22, but has now been moved to “early summer.”

“Current pandemic conditions make it extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting,” the WEF said in a statement, pointing specifically to the emergence of the omicron variant.

“Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary,” organizers said.

Participants, however, can participate in an online session that will still take place next month.

“Public-private cooperation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace. We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon,” said WEF head Klaus Schwab.

What is the Davos meeting?

The annual gathering typically draws major figures from politics, business and civil society, with world leaders often giving speeches.

The 2021 in-person event in Davos was completely called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the latest with the omicron variant?

Several countries, including Germany and Israel, have implemented new travel restrictions or quarantine requirements over omicron concerns.

The Netherlands has imposed a national lockdown over the Christmas holidays, while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen cautioned that omicron could oust delta as the dominant strain in Europe by mid-January.

Since it was first reported in South Africa in November, the omicron variant has now been detected in dozens of countries.

Early data indicates that the new variant does not appear to be more severe than the dominant delta variant, but it appears to be more transmissible and has a resistance to current coronavirus vaccines.