WASHINGTON – Moderna Inc President Stephen Hoge warns that coronavirus vaccines could be less effective against the new strain, Omicron.
“Are we going to see something more like a 50 per cent decrease in efficacy, which would really mean we’d probably need to reboot the vaccines and update them?” Sputnik quoted Hoge as saying on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, adding that “the short answer is we don’t have data yet to know for sure”.
Hoge said that it could also be that the existing vaccines will prove effective against Omicron, like it happened with the Delta variant. He expressed hope that the pandemic could actually end in 2022.
Nonetheless, “there’s a real risk that we’re going to see a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccines,” the Moderna chief said.
The Omicron coronavirus strain has been registered in at least 15 US states, according to US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr Rochelle Walensky.
Walensky said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that while the Delta variant continues to account for most of the COVID-19 cases in the US, the Omicron strain continues to spread.
The first case of the Omicron strain, which emerged in South Africa in November, was reported in the US on Dec 1.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has said that the Omicron variant is a cause for concern but not for alarm. According to White House COVID-19 experts, the US is in a better position to deal with the Omicron strain than with previous variants of the coronavirus.