Moderna CEO Predicts 'Material Drop' in Vaccine Effectiveness

Dow futures sink on Omicron news
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2021 6:17 AM CST
Omicron Poised to Spook the Dow Again
Flight cancelations are seen on the information board at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Japan confirmed on Tuesday its first case of the new omicron coronavirus variant.   (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

Drugmakers and health officials say we won't know for a few weeks just how bad the omicron variant will be, particularly in regard to the current vaccines. In the meantime, sentiment is seesawing, as reflected in world financial markets. Friday was grim, Monday rebounded, and now Tuesday is shifting back into gloomy territory. Dow futures were poised to drop more than 1%, or about 400 points, at the market open, reports the Wall Street Journal, and that's on the heels of poor performances by Asian and European markets. Driving the negative sentiment appear to be comments from the CEOs of Moderna and Pfizer suggesting that current vaccines won't be as effective against the variant.

  • Moderna: "I think it's going to be a material drop," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times. "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.'"
  • Moderna, II: "There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level ... we had with delta," Bancel said in the interview, per Business Insider. He also faulted the US and other wealthy nations for hoarding vaccines instead of distributing them to poorer nations. "In the US, we were told we had no choice but to give 60% of our output to the US government. That was not a Moderna decision."
  • Pfizer: CEO Albert Bourla wasn't quite as pessimistic. "I don't think that the result will be the vaccines don't protect," he told CNBC. "I think the result could be, which we don't know yet, the vaccines protect less." Bourla added that he's confident Pfizer's new COVID pill will be effective against omicron.
  • Regeneron: The pharmaceuticals company said its antibody treatment probably will not be as effective against omicron, per CNBC.
(More omicron variant stories.)

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