Global markets spooked after Moderna says Covid vaccine less effective against Omicron

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 30, 2021, 10:33 PM(IST)

(File photo) In New York, the S&P 500 opened 0.3 per cent lower Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Leading European stock markets fell about 1.5 per cent in early trade, shares in Asia-Pacific fell during Tuesday’s trade, led by declines of 2.4 per cent for South Korea’s Kospi and 1.6% for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index. Japan’s Nikkei 225 also shed 1.6 per cent

Global financial markets were spooked on Tuesday after Moderna’s chief executive warned that the existing COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be effective against the Omicron variant.

Leading European stock markets fell about 1.5 per cent in early trade, shares in Asia-Pacific fell during Tuesday’s trade, led by declines of 2.4 per cent for South Korea’s Kospi and 1.6% for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index. Japan’s Nikkei 225 also shed 1.6 per cent

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 respectively opened 0.2% and 0.3% lower, while crude oil futures shed more than 3 per cent.

“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level…we had with Delta,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times.

“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. But all the scientists I’ve talked to…are like ‘this is not going to be good’,” he said.

Also read | Covid: Omicron variant causing mild disease, says South African Medical Association, slams hype 

However, European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the University of Oxford, which helped AstraZeneca to develop Covid vaccine, asserted that was no evidence that the current vaccines would not work against Omicron.

EMA executive Director Emer Cooke told the European Parliament that even if the new variant becomes more widespread, existing vaccines will continue to provide protection.

Expressing similar views, the University of Oxford said it was ready to work with AstraZeneca to prepare a booster shot.

Also read | Moderna says current vaccines not effective against the Omicron variant

"Despite the appearance of new variants over the past year, vaccines have continued to provide very high levels of protection against severe disease and there is no evidence so far that Omicron is any different," the university's statement read.

"However, we have the necessary tools and processes in place for rapid development of an updated COVID-19 vaccine if it should be necessary."

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

Meanwhile, several major drugmakers have already announced that they are preparing a “Omecron-specific” vaccine.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said they have already started working on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically targeting the new Omicron variant.

Moderna Inc has said it was developing a booster shot against the new variant. While Johnson & Johnson announced on Monday that it is “pursuing an Omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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