Moderna CEO warns of COVID-19 shots being less effective against Omicron COVID variants

O’Micron: Moderna set off new alarm bells in financial markets with comments on the vaccine being ineffective.

Hong Kong/Sydney:

Drugmaker Moderna raised new alarm bells in financial markets on Tuesday as the head of the firm warned that vaccines for COVID-19 are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron version as they are against the Delta version. Huh.

Crude oil futures fell more than a dollar, the Australian currency fell to a one-year low, and the Nikkei gave up its gains as comments by Stefan Bansel raised fears that vaccine resistance could lead to more illness and hospitalizations which can make the epidemic prolong.

“There is no world, I think, where (efficacy) is the same level … we had with Delta,” Moderna CEO Bansel told the Financial Times in an interview.

“I think it’s going to be a physical drop. I don’t know how much we need to wait for the data. But the scientists I’ve talked to… are like ‘this isn’t going to be good’, Bansel said.

Omicron – which the World Health Organization (WHO) has said is at “very high” risk of escalating infections – has triggered global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow on the nascent economic recovery from a two-year pandemic.

News of its emergence wiped nearly $2 trillion off the value of global stocks on Friday, though some peace was restored this week as investors waited for more data on Omicron’s characteristics.

President Joe Biden’s remarks that the United States would not reinstate the lockdown also helped calm markets ahead of comments from major investors at Moderna.

Biden has called for widespread vaccination, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged everyone age 18 and older to get a booster shot. Britain has also expanded its COVID-19 booster program amid Omicron fears.

Hong Kong extends curbs

Fears of the new version have prompted countries around the world to move swiftly to tighten border controls to prevent a repeat of last year’s strict lockdowns and a sharp economic slowdown.

Hong Kong authorities have expanded restrictions on entry for non-residents from several countries. It said non-residents from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia would not be allowed to enter until 30 November.

Additionally, non-residents who have lived in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy in the past 21 days will not be allowed to enter the city from December 2.

The global financial hub, among the last places to pursue a zero-COVID strategy, has already banned non-residents arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In Australia, five passengers tested positive for Omicron.

Officials said they have been vaccinated and in quarantine, they are asymptomatic or display very mild symptoms.

Singapore’s health ministry said two passengers from Johannesburg who tested positive for the variant in Sydney had transited through its Changi airport.

Australian authorities also identified a sixth traveler who was most likely to have been infected with this type and had spent time in the community.

Canberra on Monday delayed the reopening of the country’s borders to international students and skilled migrants, less than 36 hours before they were allowed to return.

“We’re doing it very carefully, but our overwhelming view is that (Omicron) is an emerging version, it’s a manageable version,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told a media conference.

curbs and worries

First reported on November 24 from South Africa, Omicron has since spread to more than a dozen countries.

WHO has urged countries to use a “risk-based approach to adjusting international travel measures”.

However, global restrictions have raised concerns about vaccine disparity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement: “The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the unethically low levels of vaccination available in Africa – and they need to identify and share important science and health information with the world.” should not be punished for doing so.”

India, home of the world’s largest vaccine maker, has approved the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to several African countries and said it is ready to send more “rapidly”. China has also promised to deliver 1 billion doses to the continent.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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