The head of drugmaker Moderna said the COVID vaccine is unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron version of the coronavirus as it was before, highlighting new concerns about the trajectory of the pandemic.
“There is no world, I think, where (efficacy) is the same level … we had with Delta,” Moderna’s chief executive Stephen Bunsell told the Financial Times.
“I think it’s going to be a physical decline. I don’t know how much we need to wait for the data. But the scientists I’ve talked to … are like ‘It’s not going to be good.’ “
Vaccine resistance can lead to more illness and hospitalization and prolong epidemics.
Mr Bansel said the high number of mutations on the protein spike that the virus uses to infect human cells means it is likely that the current crop of vaccines will need to be modified.
He previously told CNBC that a vaccine that works against Omicron could take months to start shipping.
The fear of the new version, despite a lack of information about its severity, has already delayed some economic reopening plans and the re-imposition of some travel and movement restrictions.
Restrictions began again in the UK on Tuesday – mandatory masks on public transport and shops, and requiring all arrivals to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a two-day PCR test.
However, some officials have tried to strike a more upbeat note.
US President Joe Biden said Omicron “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” adding that his government’s medical experts believe that “vaccines continue to provide a degree of protection against serious disease.” will keep”.
On Monday, Pfizer director Scott Gottlieb told CNBC: “There is a fair degree of confidence in vaccine circles that [with] At least three doses. , , The patient is going to have pretty good protection against this type.”