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Covid may shift to endemic in 2022, says Moderna co-founder

World Health Organization officials have said it's too early to make that call as cases surge

Topics
Coronavirus | Pharma sector | World Health Organization

James Paton | Bloomberg 

Noubar Afeyan, Co-founder, Moderna
Noubar Afeyan, Co-founder, Moderna

The pandemic could start moving into an endemic phase in 2022, though countries will need to stay vigilant as the omicron variant spreads, according to Moderna Co-founder Noubar Afeyan.

While some countries slowly begin to consider treating Covid as an endemic disease, like the flu, officials have said it’s too early to make that call as cases surge.

“2022 may be the year that the pandemic enters an endemic phase, but it really depends on what happens and the decisions that are made across the world,” Afeyan said in a Bloomberg Television interview Friday with Francine Lacqua. Although omicron is highly transmissible,“on the other hand it’s having a lesser effect in terms of seriousness of disease,” he said.

Moderna’s omicron-specific booster shot could enter into human trials within weeks, he said, reiterating comments Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel made earlier this week. The CEO said he expected another booster would be needed in the fall, and it is likely to cont­ain a component tailored to omicron. “We will be ready with our testing starting in weeks,” Afeyan said Friday. “Whether we need a booster rather in the spring than the fall is something that we’re going to have to work with officials all around the world to sort out.” Shares of Moderna declined 3.3 per cent in pre-market trading in New York.

Moderna, along with Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE, developed highly effective Covid-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA technology. Moderna said earlier this week that it has signed vaccine purchase agreements worth $18.5 billion for this year, along with options for another $3.5 billion, including booster shots.

Boris apologises to Queen for party before funeral

Boris Johnson’s office apologised to Queen Elizabeth II following revelatio­ns of partying in Downing Street the night before her husband’s funeral, heaping further pressure on the prime minister as his government faces a string of allegations over pandemic rule-breaking. The Daily Telegraph on Friday said that on April 16, 2021, two parties were held in Downing Street to mark the depart­ures of two staffers, on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. (Reuters)

HK suspends transit flights from most of the world

Hong Kong authorities said on Friday the city's airport will suspend for a month transit flights from around 150 countries and territories considered high risk because of the coronavirus, deepening the global financial hub's isolation. (Reuters)

Higher hospitalisation rate of UK babies over Omicron

Omicron has resulted in a higher hospitalis­ation rate for babies in the UK than seen for previous variants of Covid, though most hospital stays were short, researchers said. (Bloomberg)

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First Published: Fri, January 14 2022. 23:39 IST
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