Moderna's CEO says current COVID-19 vaccines likely won't work as well against Omicron

Moderna’s CEO says current COVID-19 vaccines likely won’t work as well against Omicron

Current coronavirus vaccines are likely to be much less efficient against the rising Omicron variant, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel predicted on Tuesday.

“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level … we had with [the] Delta [variant],” he advised the Financial Times, whereas noting that that the drugmaker remains to be testing its vaccine on Omicron. 

  • Omicron: What we all know — and do not know — about new COVID-19 variant

“I think it’s going to be a material drop,” Bancel added. “I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to  . . . are like, ‘This is not going to be good.'”

As extra circumstances of Omicron emerge in Asia, Europe and North America, the race is on for drugmakers to supply vaccines able to preventing the Omicron variant. Officers with Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer mentioned final week they’ve began trials of their vaccines against Omicron, though outcomes will likely take weeks.  

Well being authorities say Omicron carries an “unprecedented number” of mutations, even in comparison with the fast-spreading Delta variant, which at present makes up nearly all U.S. circumstances. A few of these mutations would possibly make the Omicron variant extra transmissible, as well as immune to vaccines, well being authorities say. The World Well being Group, or WHO, designated Omicron a “variant of concern” final week, noting in a press release that early proof “suggests an increased risk of reinfection.”

Though scientists are working as quick as doable, it’s going to take months for Moderna to supply and ship a brand new vaccine method for the general public, Bancel told CNBC on Monday.

Regardless of the Moderna government’s warning, epidemiologists warning that it’s too early to say how harmful Omicron could possibly be. To that finish, the CEO of one other vaccine maker mentioned Tuesday that infections attributable to the brand new variant likely is not going to trigger extreme sickness for vaccinated individuals.

“Our message is: Don’t freak out, the plan remains the same: Speed up the administration of a third booster shot,” BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin, who helped invent Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, told the Wall Avenue Journal. 

Dutch well being authorities introduced on Tuesday that they discovered the Omicron variant in circumstances relationship again as lengthy as 11 days, indicating that it was already spreading in western Europe earlier than the primary circumstances had been recognized in southern Africa. Since then, circumstances have been detected in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden and different international locations. 

No Omicron circumstances have been confirmed within the U.S. However Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Meals and Drug Administration, mentioned Sunday in an interview with CBS Information’ “Face the Nation” that the brand new variant is “almost definitely” already right here.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, on Saturday additionally mentioned he would not be shocked if Omicron has already arrived within the U.S. Mr. Biden urged Individuals this week to not panic about Omicron as researchers search to be taught extra about concerning the new variant.

“Sooner or later, we’re going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States,” the president mentioned Monday. “We’ll have to face this new threat, just as we faced those that have come before it.”

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