Modern CEO warns that COVID-19 shots are less effective against Omicron, scares markets

  • Moderna CEO comments on Omicron’s shock markets
  • Hong Kong bans non-resident arrivals from multiple countries
  • Singapore: 2 travelers to Sydney with Omicron transiting Changi
  • Biden says the variant is ’cause for concern, not a cause for panic’

HONG KONG / SYDNEY, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – Drugmaker Moderna’s CEO (MRNA.O) triggered new alarm bells in the financial markets on Tuesday after warning that COVID-19 vaccines were unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant , as they have done. been against the Delta version.

Crude oil futures lost more than a dollar, the Australian currency hit a one-year low, and the Nikkei gave up gains as St├ęphane Bancel’s comments spurred fears that vaccine resistance could lead to more illness and hospitalizations, prolonging the pandemic.

“There is no world, I think, where (efficiency) is the same level … as we had with Delta,” Moderna CEO Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview.

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“I think it’s going to be a significant drop. I just do not know how much because we have to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like ‘this is not going to be good,'” said Bancel.Read more

Moderna did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the interview and on when it expects to have data on the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says has a “very high” risk of infection.

Bancel had previously told CNBC that there should be more clarity on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron in about two weeks, and that it may take months to start sending a vaccine that works against the new variant.

WHO and scientists have also said that it can take days to several weeks to understand the severity of the variant and its potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines. Read more

“Vaccination will probably still keep you out of the hospital,” said John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology in Philadelphia.

Uncertainty about the new variant has triggered global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow over an incipient economic recovery following a two-year pandemic. Read more

News of its emergence wiped out about $ 2 trillion of the value of global equities on Friday, but some calm was restored this week as investors waited for more data on Omicron.

Remarks by President Joe Biden that the United States would not reinstate lockdowns had also helped soothe the markets before comments from Moderna CEO scared investors.

Biden has called for broader vaccination, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for anyone 18 years and older to get a booster shot. Also, the UK has expanded its COVID-19 booster program due to Omicron fears.

First reported on November 24 from South Africa, Omicron has since spread to over a dozen countries. Japan, the world’s third largest economy, has confirmed its first case. Read more

The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a “variant of concern” because of the number of mutations that can help it disperse or avoid antibodies from previous infection or vaccination.

HONG KONG EXPANDS FORTANDSTAND

Countries around the world have moved quickly to tighten border controls to prevent a repeat of last year’s severe shutdowns and steep economic downturns. Read more

Hong Kong has extended an entry ban for non-residents from several countries. It said non-residents from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia would not be allowed to enter from 30 November.

In addition, it said that non-residents who have been in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy within the last 21 days would not be allowed to enter the city from the 2 December. Read more

The global financial hub, among the last places pursuing a zero-COVID strategy, has already banned non-residents from arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In Australia, five travelers tested positive for Omicron.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health said two travelers from Johannesburg who tested positive for the variant in Sydney had transited through its Changi airport. Read more

Australian authorities have also identified a sixth traveler who was most likely infected with the variant and had spent time in the community. Read more

Canberra delayed on Monday the reopening of the country’s borders for international students and skilled migrants, less than 36 hours before they were allowed to re-enter.

“We do this out of an abundance of caution, but our overwhelming view is that even though (Omicron) is a new variant, it is a manageable variant,” said Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt. Read more

An increase in new coronavirus variants and poor access to vaccines in developing countries threaten a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global borders for travelers from southern Africa also raised concerns about vaccine inequality.

“The African people cannot be blamed for the immensely low level of vaccinations available in Africa – and they should not be punished for identifying and sharing important scientific and health information with the world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. Read more

India, home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has approved deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to many African countries, saying it is ready to “quickly” ship more. China has also promised 1 billion doses to the continent. Read more

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Reporting by Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong, Renju Jose in Sydney, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Reuters agencies; Written by Himani Sarkar; Editing Shri Navratnam

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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