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COVID-19: current vaccines could be ineffective against omicron variant, warns Moderna chief

COVID vaccines created so far could struggle to combat the variant omicron and it will take months to finalize a new effective immunizer against that strain, the president of the American laboratory Moderna told the Financial Times.

Stephane Bancel told the newspaper, in an interview published on Tuesday, that the data on the effectiveness of current vaccines against the new strain will arrive in the next two weeks but that, even so, scientists are not optimistic.

“All the scientists I’ve talked to feel like ‘this is not going to be good,'” he told the newspaper.

Bancel’s warning coincided with an emergency meeting of the G7 health ministers on the new variant, which is expanding around the world and pushing different countries to close their borders again and reinstate travel limitations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that omicron represents a “very high” risk.

Bancel explained that the researchers are concerned because 32 of the 50 mutations found in the omicron strain are in the spicule protein, a part of the virus that vaccines use to boost the immune system against the coronavirus.

Moderna’s chief executive told the Financial Times that there could be a “significant decline” in the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines.

Moderna is working on a specific immunizer against omicron, as well as the US laboratory Pfizer, according to both companies.

According to Bancel, Moderna expects to supply between 2 billion and 3 billion doses of this formula in 2022, but warned that focusing all production on vaccines against the omicron variant would be dangerous, since the other strains of the virus are still in circulation.

An alarmist tone that contrasts with the efforts of politicians to reassure the population about omicron.

US President Joe Biden declared on Friday that this new variant “is not cause for panic.”

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