It's too early to tell whether the omicron variant will actually be able to evade vaccine- and infection-induced immunity to deliver 'breakthrough' infections, as initially promised.
But vaccine-makers, including Moderna, whose stock price has languished well below its highs from just a few months ago, are starting to sound like they want omicron to justify another generation of vaccines, if for no other reason than to bolster Moderna's bottom line, and satisfy Wall Street's ballooning expectations.
After CEO Stephane Bancel helped to spook markets early last week with an interview where he warned about omicron's supposedly devastating potential, another senior Moderna executive has stepped up Monday to unleash another round of omicron 'FUD'.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said there’s a "real risk" that existing COVID jabs will be less effective against omicron.
That's no longer the consensus. Even Dr. Fauci said over the weekend that omicron appears to be less virulent than delta, which means that if it becomes the dominant variant, fewer people will die or get severely ill, as we have explained before.
It's just a reminder that "the science" can be warped to support practically any self-serving argument.
Hoge took a step back from where Bancel left things, saying it's too early to tell whether the variant might surpass vaccine protections. But he did say an updated formulation would be needed if the variant is found to cause an unexpectedly large number of breakthrough infections. He added that he believes there's a "real risk" of this happening.
"I think that there’s a real risk that we’re going to see a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccines," Hoge said in an ABC interview. "What I don’t know is how substantial that is."
A 50% drop in efficacy would be enough to warrant a new generation of vaccines, Hoge said. Though he didn't say much about a timeline for producing the new jabs, which has previously been put at between 3-4 months.
"Are we going to see something more like a 50% decrease in efficacy, which would really mean we’d probably need to reboot the vaccines and update them?" Hoge said.
Now, would Moderna fell the same way about omicron if it were obligated to provide the jabs for free, at cost, or - god forbid - to share the IP allowing for the creation of the jabs by any developing economy that wants to take a shot at producing them.
It's worth noting that Dr. Fauci isn't the only senior government official to play down the risks of omicron in an effort to alleviate the "uncertainty" plaguing markets, investors and the public. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy appeared on the Sunday shows to tell Americans not to panic over the new omicron variant, though he did urge Americans to keep wearing masks in public, and urged them to take the precautionary measures they have learned over the last 22 months and apply them to their holiday gatherings.