The pandemic is still with us as the year winds down and has not yet become endemic, like the seasonal flu. Even before the new Omicron variant was sequenced, Europe was being particularly hard hit, and social restrictions, especially among the unvaccinated, were spurring social strife. US cases, notably in the Midwest, were rising, and there is fear that it is 4-6 weeks behind Europe in experiencing the surge. Whatever herd immunity is, it has not been achieved. Moreover, despite plenty of vaccines in high-income countries, inoculation efforts in many low-income countries won't begin in earnest until next year.
That said, the new variant has injected a new element into the mix, and it is with a heightened degree of uncertainty that we share our December outlook. Given the unknowns, policymakers can choose the kind of error they are willing to make. They are trying to minimize their maximum regret. The utmost regret is that the mutati