The new variant worries the vaccine top.
The pharmaceutical company Moderna is behind one of the approved vaccines in Norway. Their boss Stéphane Bancel predicts in Financial Times that current vaccines will be much less effective against omicron than previous variants of the virus.
He warns that it can take months before the pharmaceutical companies can produce a new specially adapted vaccine.
Bancel says that the high number of changes in the spike protein and the rapid spread in South Africa suggest that current vaccines may need to be modified next year. Changes in the spike protein can affect the properties of the virus, such as how contagious it is and how good it is at bypassing vaccine protection.
Regarding the effect of the vaccines against the omicron variant, the Moderna top says:
– I can not imagine a world where it is at the same level we had with delta.
However, he can not refer to data to support these analyzes, and estimates that they know more in two weeks.
– I think there will be a significant (in English “material”) fall. I just do not know how much because we have to wait for data. But all the researchers I’ve talked to say, “this is not going to be good,” says Bancel.
Vaccine manager Geir Bukholm at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) told VG on Tuesday morning that it is likely that the vaccines will work well.
“Vaccine effect can still be good against serious disease because we know that the mRNA vaccines can provide a fairly broad protection, and broader than in the case of infection,” said Bukholm.
He points out that the virus has spread very quickly in South Africa, but that we do not know if it is because the virus is more contagious, or if it is the conditions there that do it.
“Things may indicate that it is more contagious, so we hope that the vaccine effect is about the same as now, and hope it does not cause more serious disease,” Bukholm told VG.