The existing COVID-19 vaccines might not be as effective against the emerging omicron variant, according to vaccine developer Moderna’s chief executive.

What is the omicron variant?

Over the Thanksgiving break, the World Health Organization warned of a new COVID-19 variant, calling it a variant of concern. The variant — with the scientific name B.1.1.529 — was named “omicron” after the letter in the Greek alphabet as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • The variant allegedly has dozens of mutations that make it more likely to evade COVID-19 vaccines and have high transmissibility, according to reports.
  • The omicron variant has already started to spread across the world as more countries have discovered the variant within their populations.
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Will the Moderna vaccine work against omicron?

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of vaccine developer Moderna, predicted that the existing COVID-19 vaccines will be less effective against the omicron variant, per The Financial Times.

Bancel said it might take months before vaccines are made to fight off the variant.

  • “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with (the) Delta (variant),” 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.’”

Earlier this week, Moderna said it was already building a COVID-19 vaccine that would tackle omicron, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Should you get vaccinated?

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Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN Sunday that the American population should get the COVID-19 vaccine now to protect themselves against the variant.

  • “We have to use every kind of tool in our toolbox to keep (omicron) from getting in a situation that makes this worse,” he said.
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