Three new Omicron cases have been identified in Scotland, Sky News reported on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases in Britain to 14.
At the same time, drug-maker Moderna’s CEO set off fresh alarm bells in London and other financial markets on Tuesday after he warned that COVID-19 vaccines were unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been against the Delta version.
Moderna did not reply to a Reuters’ request for comment on the interview and on when it expects to have data on the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says carries a “very high” risk of infection surges.
Bancel had earlier said on CNBC https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL4N2SK37Y that there should be more clarity on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron in about two weeks, and that it could take months to begin shipping a vaccine that work against the new variant.
The WHO and scientists have also said it could take days to several weeks to understand the level of severity of the variant and its potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines.
“Vaccination will likely still keep you out of the hospital,” said John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology in Philadelphia.
The uncertainty about the new variant has triggered global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow over a nascent economic recovery from a two-year pandemic.
First reported on Nov. 24 from South Africa, Omicron has since spread to over a dozen countries. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has confirmed its first case.