Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in an interview published Tuesday that the current vaccines against COVID-19 are likely to be much less effective against the new Omicron variant.
“I think it’s going to be a substantial drop,” he told the Financial Times. “I just don’t know how much because we have to wait for the data.”
He told the newspaper that he doesn’t believe there is a “world” in which the effectiveness of the vaccines is the same as the Delta variant. He said he spoke to scientists who told him this variant “won’t be good”. He also said it could be months before drug companies can mass-produce vaccines against Omicron.
COVID-19 OMICRON VARIANT: WE KNOW THAT
The Financial Times reported that a recent Stanford study found the Moderna vaccine to be 56.6% effective against infections caused by the Delta variant.
President Biden said the variant was “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”.
He said he was not considering widespread lockdown in the US and instead called for masks and vaccinations to be worn, even when a federal judge prevented his government from enforcing a requirement that thousands of health workers in 10 states receive the vaccination.
The World Health Organization said there was “significant uncertainty” about the Omicron variant. However, it is said that preliminary evidence raises the possibility that the variant may have mutations that could help it evade an immune system response and increase its ability to spread from one person to another.
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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responded to the potential threat by urging anyone aged 18 and over to get a booster vaccination because “strong immunity is likely to prevent serious diseases”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report