Moderna CEO: New Alarm Bells in Financial Markets

Pharmaceutical company Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel sounded new alarm bells in financial markets Tuesday with a warning that current COVID-19 vaccines will be less effective against the Omicron variant than they were against the Delta variant.

Leading European stock markets fell about 1.5 per cent in early trade, the Nikkei in Tokyo closed 1.6 per cent, crude oil futures fell more than 3 per cent, and the Australian dollar fell to its lowest level in one year as comments by Stefan Bansel raised concerns That vaccine resistance may prolong its life.

“I think it would be a physical drop. I just don’t know how much that is because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to…are like, “This isn’t going to be good,” Bancel said.

To balance it, however, European Medicines Agency (EMA) Executive Director Emer Kok told the European Parliament that even if the new alternative becomes more widespread, existing vaccines will continue to provide protection.

Vaccine for the new variant
Bancel earlier told CNBC that it could take months to start shipping a vaccine designed for the new variant.

The World Health Organization and scientists also said it could take weeks to understand whether Omicron is likely to cause serious illness or escape protection against immunity caused by vaccines.

Cook said lab tests for “cross-neutralization” would take about two weeks,  added that if COVID-19 vaccines need to be changed, new vaccines could be approved within three or four months.

Vaccination will likely remain far from the hospital,” said John Wehrey, director of the Penn Institute of Immunology in Philadelphia.

Moderna and colleagues from the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson are working on vaccines that specifically target Omicron if existing shots are ineffective against it. Moderna is also testing a higher dose of its current booster.

Uncertainty about the new alternative has sparked global concern, as border closures cast a shadow over the economic recovery stemming from the two-year pandemic.

News of his appearance wiped out nearly $2 trillion in global stocks on Friday, but some calm returned on Monday.

“The information about the Omicron variant is unclear, how severe its symptoms are and how easily it can spread is also unknown, as is the efficacy of current vaccines,” said Calvin Wong, analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) BTE. “I expect more downside risks in the next couple of weeks unless there is more clarity about Omicron’s stress.”

Positive data from China, which showed improved factory morale in November, as the impact of the energy crisis waned and inflation pressures eased, was overshadowed by skepticism about a vaccine. The Hang Seng Index of Chinese stocks closed at its lowest level since May 2016.

Elsewhere, emerging market stocks fell for a third day, with the benchmark index hitting a one-year low. Risk aversion has also undermined the cryptocurrency, with Bitcoin dropping towards $56,000.

Border controls
First revealed in South Africa a week ago, Omicron is known to have spread to more than a dozen countries, prompting many to tighten border controls in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year’s strict lockdowns and severe economic recession.

Global restrictions on travelers from South Africa, where the virus was first identified, have highlighted unequal distribution of the vaccine, which could give the virus more opportunities to mutate.

“The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the unethically low level of available vaccinations in Africa – nor should they be punished for identifying and sharing important scientific and health information with the world,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The passenger ship Europa was docked in Cape Town on Tuesday in what was supposed to be the official start of the first cruise ship season in South Africa’s largest tourism hub since the pandemic.

After Omicron was discovered while at sea, many passengers were expected to travel directly home.

India, home to the world’s largest vaccine maker, has approved supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to several African countries and said it was ready to send more “urgently”. China also pledged to provide one billion doses to the continent.

Reviewer overview

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel - /10

Summary

Pharmaceutical company Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel sounded new alarm bells in financial markets Tuesday with a warning that current COVID-19 vaccines will be less effective against the Omicron variant than they were against the Delta variant.

0 Bad!