What happened

Shares of biopharma company Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR) are up 13.7% as of 11:57 a.m. ET on Monday in response to reports that a new strain of the COVID-19 virus has been identified.

So what

It's not exactly news anymore. Indeed, headlines regarding the new omicron variant of the coronavirus began to surface before Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. It just took a while for investors to connect the dots all the way back to Vir Biotechnology, which potentially benefits from a renewed outbreak of infections stemming from this new strain of the pandemic-causing virus.

Businessperson plotting a rising digital stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's not a COVID-19 vaccine maker, to be clear. Rather, Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline are the co-developers of a prospective treatment of COVID-19 currently called sotrovimab. The injection-based therapy showed good efficacy in phase 3 trials aimed at the delta variant of the coronavirus. While not specifically designed to treat omicron strain infections, the well-rounded sotrovimab could be up for the task in an environment where the initial vaccines are less and less effective at curbing the contagion's spread.

Now what

The knee-jerk response makes sense. But, it's just that -- a knee-jerk response. It remains to be seen if sotrovimab is an effective option in the war against COVID-19 that's continually evolving. Remember, Vir Biotechnology shares have spent the past nine months losing more ground than they've gained. It's unlikely the most recent headlines regarding the omicron strain is the sort of underpinning that can keep Monday's rally in motion.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.