The threat of the omicron variant is becoming real for many of Asia’s biggest countries just as it looks set to subside in some Western nations, and that’s complicating investors’ search for winning share bets in the region.

The problem is that Asian governments are carrying out widely diverging coronavirus policies, with strategies ranging from China’s pursuit of "COVID zero" to Australia’s move to live with the virus, and almost everything in between. The speed of vaccinations and the strength of health care systems also vary greatly in the region.

It’s another example of how COVID-19 is forcing investors to face new challenges, though many remain positive about Asia’s ability to weather the storm as its best-performing nations kept deaths from the pandemic at levels far lower than elsewhere. Asian stocks have done better than their European and U.S. counterparts so far this year, after underperforming both of them in 2021.