For European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to support extra stimulus, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 must cause significant damage to the Eurozone economy.
Kazaks said that it's too early to determine how the new strain would damage the continent's recovery. As things stand, the ECB's 1.85 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) emergency bond-buying programme, known as PEPP, will expire in March as planned.
"We don't know how the Omicron variant will develop right now," Kazaks said. "Unless it spills over into major and large negative adjustments to the growth outlook, I don't see why March should be changed."
The ECB is preparing for an important meeting on December 16, when policymakers will decide on the future of their stimulus tools. Along with the increased Covid-19 risks, the debate will focus on inflation, which is currently at its highest level since the creation of the common currency.
As scientists are still analysing the risks posed by Omicron, Kazaks believes the ECB will have time to change its policy path early next year if the health assessment warrants it.
"If we realise that it's painful in February, we may modify our views," he said, referring to the problem of flexibility. "In my opinion, it is conceivable to resume PEPP as well as increase the envelope if necessary."
The other uncertainty is the course of consumer prices, which rose 4.9% in November, more than double the ECB's 2% target. "My expectation remains that it drops to below 2%," he said, citing a lack of evidence that rising prices are prompting wage increases that would risk entrenching faster inflation.