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Moderna CEO warns vaccines less effective against Omicron, markets tumble

Moderna CEO warns vaccines less effective against Omicron, markets tumble

Drugmaker Modernas chief executive has predicted that existing vaccines could be much less effective at tackling Omicron covid variant than earlier strains, leading to a selloff in equity markets and pushing oil prices lower. He also warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with Delta, Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview. He added: “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’. In India, Sensex dropped into negative territory after rising over 900 points intra-day, tracking a decline in other markets, before settling about 200 points lower. In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index swung to a loss of as much following the FT report. S&P 500 futures erased initial gains. Stéphane Bancel said the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa, suggested the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Moderna CEOs comments come as a growing number of countries have imposed travel restrictions to limit the spread of the newly discovered COVID-19 variant, which the World Health Organization said on Monday carried a very high risk of infection surges. Oil prices dropped on the news. Brent crude futures fell $1.82, or 2.5%, to $71.62 a barrel. Oil had plunged around 12% on Friday along with other markets on fears the heavily mutated Omicron would spark fresh lockdowns and dent global growth, hurting oil demand. The World Health Organization said on Monday that Omicron posed a very high risk of infection surges, and several countries stepped up travel curbs. It is still unclear how severe the new variant is and whether it can resist existing vaccines. (With Agency Inputs) Download.

science 2021-11-30 Livemint