Crude oil futures lost more than a dollar, the Australian currency hit its lowest level in a year and the Nikkei dropped its gains as comments from Stéphane Bancel raised concerns that vaccine resistance lead to more illnesses and hospitalizations, thus prolonging the pandemic.
“There’s no world, I think, where (efficiency) is at the same level. . . we had with Delta, ”Bancel, CEO of Moderna, told the Financial Times in an interview.
“I think it’s going to be a big drop. I don’t know how much because we have to wait for the data. But all the scientists I spoke to. . . are like ‘this is not going to be good,’ ”Bancel said.
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Moderna says Omicron COVID-19 vaccine could be ready in early 2022
Moderna did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the interview and when she expects to have data on the effectiveness of her vaccine against Omicron, which the World Health Organization says (WHO), carries a “very high” risk of infectious outbreaks.
Bancel had previously said on CNBC that there should be more clarity on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron in about two weeks, and that it could take months to start shipping a vaccine that works against the new variant. .
The WHO and scientists have also said it could take days to weeks to understand the level of severity of the variant and its potential to evade protection against vaccine-induced immunity.
“The vaccination will likely keep you out of the hospital,” said John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology in Philadelphia.
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Uncertainty over the new variant has raised global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow over an emerging economic recovery after a two-year pandemic.
News of its emergence wiped around $ 2 trillion from the value of global stocks on Friday, but some calm was restored this week as investors waited for more data on Omicron.
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Remarks by President Joe Biden that the United States would not reinstate lockdowns had also helped calm markets before Moderna CEO’s comments scared investors.
Biden called for a broader vaccination, while the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all people aged 18 and over to get vaccinated. Britain has also expanded its COVID-19 recall program amid Omicron fears.
First reported on November 24 in South Africa, Omicron has since spread to more than a dozen countries. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has confirmed its first case.
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Hong Kong expands its borders
Countries around the world have moved quickly to tighten border controls to avoid a recurrence of last year’s strict closures and abrupt economic downturns.
Hong Kong has extended the entry ban to non-residents of several countries. He said non-residents of Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia would not be allowed entry from November 30.
In addition, he said that non-residents who visited Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy in the past 21 days would not be not allowed to enter the city from December 2.
The global financial hub, among the last places pursuing a zero COVID strategy, has already banned non-residents from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
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In Australia, five travelers have tested positive for Omicron.
Singapore’s health ministry said two travelers from Johannesburg who tested positive for the Sydney variant had passed through its Changi airport.
Australian authorities have also identified a sixth traveler who was most likely infected with the variant and had spent time in the community.
Canberra on Monday delayed reopening the country’s borders for international students and skilled migrants, less than 36 hours before their return.
“We’re doing this out of caution, but our overwhelming view is that while (Omicron) is an emerging variant, it’s a manageable variant,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
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Global restrictions on travelers from southern Africa have also raised concerns over vaccine inequality.
“The African people cannot be blamed for the immoral level of immunization available in Africa – and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial scientific and health information with the world,” said the secretary general of the UN Antonio Guterres in a statement.
India, home to the world’s largest vaccine maker, has approved the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to many African countries and has said it is ready to send it “quickly.” China has also pledged 1 billion doses to the mainland.
(Reporting by Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong, Renju Jose in Sydney, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Reuters offices; written by Himani Sarkar; edited by Shri Navratnam)
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