The World Health Organisation has warned that the highly-contagious Omicron variant will not be the last one that the world sees as cases surged. Worldwide reported infections increased by 20% for a total of 19 million new cases last week, a number that has WHO officials saying that the large number of infections will increases chances of the coronavirus mutating. In America and Europe, signs of “endgame” plans have begun emerging, with companies and countries heading towards dealing with the coronavirus as endemic.
Starbucks has become the first company to backtrack on its vaccination requirements as the supreme court blocks US President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. In Europe, the rapid spread of the omicron strain has shifted strategy towards minimising disruptions. Once the wave of omicron passes, officials are hopeful that immunity emerges from a combination of seasonality, vaccinations, and infection-based immunity.
Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion
In what is so far the biggest tech deal in history, Microsoft has made a move to acquire the scandal-embattled Activision Blizzard for a $68.7 billion cash transaction at $95 a share – a number still below Activision Blizzard’s one-year high of $104. Activision Blizzard is the publisher of several highly popular gaming titles, including the Warcraft and Call of Duty franchises as well as mobile game Candy Crush. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard stock rose at the news, while console competitor Sony’s stocks dipped.
Russia proposes crypto ban
Bitcoin dropped more than 7% to below $40,000 as Russia’s central bank proposed a ban on the use and mining of cryptocurrencies. The ban comes with Russia declaring cryptocurrencies to be a threat to its financial stability and the sovereignty of its monetary policy. However, Russia currently sees no plans to ban ownership of cryptocurrencies. The move is the latest blow to the digital asset, closely following China’s blanket ban in 2021. Russia is currently the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency miner, with a global hashrate of 11.2%. The proposal has brought up the possible exodus of miners. Telegram’s CEO, Pavel Durov, has also warned of a drain of IT professionals from the country if the ban goes through.