COVID vaccine maker Moderna warned that it will take months to develop an Omicron specific booster jab as Scotland identified three more cases of the mutant strain.
Stephane Bancel, chief executive at the Massachusetts based vaccine manufacturer, said he expects the highly evolved COVID variant to cause a material reduction in the effectiveness of existing vaccines, warning that the outcome was not going to be good.
He warned that it will take until summer 2022 for Moderna to develop a new vaccine and scale-up manufacturing to vaccinate entire populations.
Scientists say it will take two weeks to actually work out how effective jabs are against Omicron, which has twice as many mutations on its spike protein as Delta. The strain is expected to make current vaccines significantly weaker at stopping infections, but it’s less clear how it will affect hospitalisations and mortality.
Britain yesterday expanded its current booster rollout for all adults over 18, even though the vaccines are expected to be much weaker against Omicron, it’s hoped that topping up everyone’s immunity to extremely high levels will give an additional line of protection against the incoming wave.
Scottish health authorities announced three more Omicron cases overnight, bringing the UK total to 14, and laboratories across the country are investigating hundreds more likely cases and there are signs the strain is already circulating in the community.
Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street press conference to give an update on the COVID situation and lay out the sequence of measures that kicked in to tackle the variant.
Face masks have now been made compulsory in shops and on public transport in England. Those who are close contacts of possible Omicron cases must also self isolate for ten days, regardless of vaccination status, and double vaccinated people arriving in the United Kingdom are also expected to self isolate for two days, and only leave their homes when they’ve got a negative PCR test.
But UK public health chiefs have urged people to avoid socialising before Christmas except they need to, to further curb the spread of the virus. There are also calls for masks to return to restaurants, pubs and bars.
A SAGE scientist said the United Kingdom was very well equipped to fight another variant. Professor Paul Moss said expanding the booster programme would turbocharge immunity to super-high levels to help keep the Omicron variant at bay.
Although it’s been reported that this is a milder variant, but we really don’t know much about it at the moment, and we really can’t find a vaccination for every strain.
But then again, it’s big money for the pharma companies and we’re just the guinea pigs, and no one in South Africa is known to have been hospitalised with the Omicron variant, nor is anyone believed to have been seriously ill with it.
However, putting the fear of God into people so that they will comply with these draconian measures appears to be working. It also takes the public’s awareness away from the important things that the Government doesn’t want to address or admit.
If Boris Johnson doesn’t make enough people terrified of Omicron I’m sure he’s got nine other variants up his sleeve, and of course, Boris Johnson knows his career can only last as long as COVID.
Numerous people have had their two injections and many recognise the importance of it, but all viruses start off strong, but over time become more transmissible but less deadly, and if SAGE advisors weren’t so politically driven they’d admit to this.
Perhaps the Government are just playing safe due to their cavalier response to more unanticipated strains because they need to be seen to be doing something, and if wearing masks is as far as they take it then that’s okay, but if they push it, then they will find that many people will just ignore them.