While the COVID-19 Omicron variant has not hindered companies that develop COVID-19 testing equipment, it is uncertain how other medical device companies will be able to respond to an influx of the new variant.
WHO says it is still not clear whether Omicron is more easily spread from person to person compared to other variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. The organization also said it is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, WHO noted, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.
If the Omicron variant does become more widespread globally, however, we can be relatively sure that elective surgery and “deferrable” surgical procedures will once again take a backseat to COVID-19, especially in places like the United States where hospitals are facing major labor shortages.
COVID-19 surges attributed to the Delta variant, combined with the hospital staffing shortages, proved to be a double whammy on earnings for several medical device companies in the third quarter, including Stryker. While some executives in the industry spoke optimistically about how hospitals are getting better at juggling COVID-19 cases with surgical procedures, that optimism will truly be put to the test if Omicron continues to spread as quickly as it has.
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