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Updated on: Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 02:24 PM IST

Moderna Chief warns COVID-19 vaccines less effective against Omicron, markets collapse

Stephane Bancel's remarks spurred worries that vaccine resistance could result to severe sickness and hospitalisations, prolonging the pandemic.
Representative Image | AFP Photo

Representative Image | AFP Photo

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Drug manufacturer Moderna sparked fresh concerns in financial markets on Tuesday after the company's chief Stephane Bancel warned that the existing COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron strain as they have been against the Delta variant, reports NDTV.

Crude oil futures shed more than a dollar, the Australian currency plunged a year low, and Nikkei gave up its gains as Bancel's remarks spurred worries that vaccine resistance could result to severe sickness and hospitalisations, prolonging the pandemic.

"There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta," Moderna CEO Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview.

"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'," Bancel said.

The new Covid-19 variant, 'Omicron' - which the World Health Organization (WHO) warned carries a "very high" risk of infection surges - has triggered panic around the world, with shutting of border proving to be a major setback to the road of economic recovery from a two-year long pandemic.

News of its detection on Friday wiped around $2 trillion off the value of global stocks. However, some calm was restored this week as investors waited for more information on the nature of Omicron.

Remarks by President Joe Biden that the United States would not reimpose lockdowns had also relived the markets before the statement from the Moderna CEO alarmed the investors.

Biden has called for ramping up vaccination, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people aged 18 years and above to take a booster shot. UK also has widened its COVID-19 booster programme over Omicron fears.

With Agency Inputs

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Published on: Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 02:24 PM IST
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