As the first Omicron variant-positive case has been identified in France, this Monday November 29, the WHO estimated this new strain poses a “very high” global risk. “Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic”, the World Health Organization explained.
Since the Omicron variant was discovered – spotted for the first time in South Africa – many countries have decided to close their borders to travelers coming from several Southern African countries. Others have decided to close their borders to all foreign travelers again.
Yet, to this point, many unknowns remain about this Omicron variant. Several questions are unanswered especially when it comes to the effectiveness of vaccines currently given with this new variant. On that matter, Moderna CEO says he expects a “material drop” in the effectiveness of the current vaccines. Interviewed by the Financial Times, Stéphane Bancel considers it is unlikely the current vaccines’ effectiveness “is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant]”. “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”, he added. The reason of such a fear? The multiple mutations observed in the new variant likely to escape from the current vaccines.
Furthermore, both drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have already started to work on new vaccines to face the threat caused by the Omicron variant. But this new serum will take months to be available. “Moderna and Pfizer cannot get a billion doses next week. The maths doesn’t work. But could we get the billion doses out by the summer? Sure”, Bancel said in the Financial Times.
While waiting for this new vaccine to arrive, Moderna CEO has delivered recommendations to face the Omicron variant: giving booster shot with higher dose to the oldest people and people with comorbidities.