The CEO of Moderna (MRNA.O) said that the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the new variant – Omicron than earlier strains. His statement caused a worry in financial markets, leading to a selloff in equity markets and pushing oil prices lower. 

“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview.

Also read: Explained: Omicron’s risk factors and measures to stay safe

The World Health Organization had said that it is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other COVID-19 variants.

The UN body admitted that it wasn’t clear whether omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants like the highly transmissible delta variant.

Bancel said that there is going to be a drop in effectiveness.  

Also read: US CDC tweaks vaccine recommendation as Omicron scare increases

“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.'”

In India, Sensex dropped 196 points on Tuesday. The equity benchmark dropped into negative territory after rising over 900 points intra-day. Japanese Nikkei 225 index swung to a loss. Brent crude futures fell $1.82, or 2.5%, to $71.62 a barrel.

Bancel said the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa, suggested the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. 

Also read: Biden’s vaccine mandate gets blocked in 10 states as Omicron threat looms

A number of countries have placed travel restrictions on African countries. The WHO had described Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ on Friday.