Scientists had predicted a 'not so good' outlook for vaccine effectiveness against the new mutant strain Omicron said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. In an interview to Financial Times, Bancel said that he was not hopeful to have as good an outcome with this variant of Covid-19 as the vaccines had against the Delta strain.B
Bancel had earlier said on CNBC that there should be more clarity on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron in about two weeks, and that it could take months to begin shipping a vaccine that work against the new variant. His latest comments have triggered fresh worries across the world as countries prepared for travel bans and markets braced themselves for another economic hit.
Moderna and other oharmeceutical giants like Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson have already begun testing to see whether their vaccinees will prove against against the Omicron variant even as scientists are decoding the virus' structure and what it's mutations may mean. While the WHO has classified it as a 'variant of concern' and preliminary studies suggest higher transmissibility, little to nothing is known about the severity of infection it causes.
Remarks by President Joe Biden that the United States would not reinstate lockdowns had also helped soothe markets before comments from the Moderna CEO spooked investors. The announcement of the Omicron variant ha wiped two trillion off the market after November 24. Biden has called for wider vaccination, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged everyone aged 18 years and older to get a booster shot. Britain too has expanded its COVID-19 booster programme amid Omicron fears.
Australia, Japan, the Czech Republic and many other countries have already confirmed their first cases of the variant with India on high alert. Hong Kong has daid that tavel bans have been enacted on non-native passengers from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia would not be allowed to enter as of November 30. Additionally, it said non-residents who have been to Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy in the past 21 days would not be allowed to enter the city from December 2.