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Moderna working ’round the clock’ to fight omicron

Richard Henderson
AFR
 • 
Dec 3, 2021

Moderna will know in just over a week how effective its COVID-19 vaccine is against the omicron strain, according to the company’s co-founder Robert Langer, who partly repudiated comments from the group’s chief executive warning of poor coverage against the variant earlier this week.

Langer said the company’s testing would show the levels of effectiveness against the new strain a week from Sunday and said the interpretation of comments from Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel earlier this week “were not exactly correct”.

Bancel predicted a “material drop” in the level of effectiveness against the new strain and warned that the onset of the new variant “is not going to be good,” in an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday.

The US sharemarket sold off heavily following the comments, spurring further volatility in a week of whipsawing trade as the world awaits greater clarity on the omicron strain first detected in southern Africa.

Langer, who founded the company a decade ago and is one of the world’s most enterprising engineers with more than 1300 approved and pending patents, said the vaccine would still provide protection and that new versions would eventually provide extra coverage for the omicron strain.

“I think what you’ll see is that it may not be as effective against this variant as it is against the original, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be effective,” he said, speaking at the Sohn Hearts & Minds investment conference on Friday.

“Moderna has also been working on other strategies round the clock to affect this as well,” he said after staff rushed back to work over the Thanksgiving holiday when news of the new strain first emerged.


This article was originally posted by The AFR here.

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