Moderna President Says All Vaccines’ Efficacy May Struggle Against Omicron

Moderna President Stephen Hoge said there is a risk that existing COVID-19 shots may struggle in their effectiveness against the Omicron variant, though it’s too early to say by how much.

Hoge’s comments follow those of Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel, who said last week that he predicts current vaccines will be far less effective against the latest CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant due to the high number of mutations on the spike protein.

“It seems likely that the Omicron variant is going to make a dent in our vaccine’s efficacy—in fact, in all vaccines’ efficacy,” the president of the U.S.-based pharmaceutical company said during an interview with CNN.

“The things that lead us to believe that are our prior experiences, including with the Delta variant … [which] had an impact on vaccines’ efficacy,” he added.

It is unclear how big the decrease in the shots’ efficacy will be, Hoge said, noting that he is also concerned about the speed at which Omicron appears to have mutated.

“The Omicron variant looks a lot like Delta, and the variant that came before it—Beta,” he said. “The combination of mutations that have been brought together here, we think are going to increase the possibility of immune escape.”

U.S. stock futures and crude oil prices slumped on Nov. 30 amid a broader risk-off pivot in markets after Moderna’s Bancel said that existing vaccines will be less effective against Omicron.

NTD Photo
The CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel is seen in this video frame grab as he speaks during an interview with AFP on Nov. 17, 2020. (Ivan Couronne/AFP via Getty Images)

According to U.S. health authorities, it is not yet known how transmissible the latest CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant is, as well as how well existing vaccines work.

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about Omicron’s severity.

Omicron, which was first identified in South Africa last month, may produce less severe cases of COVID-19 than earlier strains, and hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly, the South African Medical Research Council said in a new report.

So far, according to an analysis of news reports, the Omicron variant has been discovered in about a third of all U.S. states. No deaths have been linked to the variant anywhere in the world.