Considered one of the variants of the coronavirus with the greatest impact on public health, the most transmissible, the most virulent, the response on The efficacy of vaccines against the appeared Omicron is key to the future control of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The executive director of the Moderna laboratory gave a strong warning about the new variant, saying that “there is no world” where the effectiveness of current developments is on the same level as against Delta.
Interviewed by the newspaper Financial times, Stéphane Bancel believes that there will be a “Significant drop” in effectiveness of current vaccines in the Omicron variant, although he noted the adaptability of the messenger RNA platform to develop a new vaccine on a large scale.
The executive highlighted that several scientists are pending before the multiple mutations observed in the new variant. According to him, most experts believed that a sublineage with so many mutations would not emerge for a year or two.
These statements from the head of the US pharmaceutical group come as other experts have taken a more optimistic tone about the ability of vaccines to confer protection against the Omicron variant..
In that line he referred Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and Pfizer Board Member Scott Gottlieb, who said that there was “a reasonable degree of confidence” that the booster dose with current vaccines will help fight the new strain.
Bancel, in an interview collected by Reuters from the British financial daily, added that the high number of mutations in the protein spike that the virus uses to infect human cells means that current vaccines will likely have to be modified.
“Moderna and Pfizer cannot deliver a billion doses next week. But can we have a billion doses by the northern hemisphere summer? Certainly”, Stéphane Bancel sentenced, recognizing the revolutionary advance of the technology applied for the development of this type of vaccines.
Although experts agree on the lack of concrete data on the impact of a new variant originating in South Africa, Pfizer and Moderna laboratories have already begun work on tailoring injectables to specifically target Omicron.
Nevertheless, One of the challenges will be large-scale production in the short term, for which Bancel advocated for reinforcement for the most vulnerable patient groups.
The comments of the director of Moderna made the financial markets fall: oil futures fell more than a dollar, the Australian currency hit a low for the year and the Nikkei gave up its gains. Fears of resistance to vaccines could cause a prolongation of the coronavirus pandemic, something that would impact on the economic recovery.
Finally, Bancel responded to the critics outlining the responsibilities of manufacturers of vaccines due to the unequal distribution of doses of anti-Covid sera, a questioning that took relevance these hours after the appearance in South Africa of this new variant, where only a quarter of the population is completely immunized
“It was mainly a political decision of the rich countries,” the executive replied. And he added: “In the United States, they told us that we would have no choice but to hand over 60% of our production to the US government. It was not a decision by Moderna, it was a decision by the United States government ”.