Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel warned that current coronavirus vaccines will likely be less effective against the newly discovered omicron variant as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comes under scrutiny for masking the number of existing breakthrough infections of the virus.
“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, predicting 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,'” he added.
Bancel’s remarks follow the emergence of the omicron variant, which President Biden described of one as “great concern.” He pointed to vaccinations as a way to combat the virus and dismissed those who have refused to get the vaccine, suggesting it is actually unpatriotic of them not to get the jab.
“You know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom, but I think it’s a patriotic responsibility to do that,” he stated.
“If people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there’s no need for the lockdown,” he said.
While Bancel suggested the existing vaccines will not be as efficient at combating the variant, breakthrough infections of the virus are already widespread, although the exact number is unknown to the general public. Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan asked Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday why the CDC does not appear to be tracking those figures, but he suggested they are doing so behind the scenes.
“In many respects, they are,” he said of the public health officials tracking the data but failing to directly answer the question.
“Why did- why did the United States decide not to track those breakthrough infections?” Brennan pressed.
“Well, it’s a very complicated indication- excuse me. It’s a very complicated situation,” Fauci said, admitting the data is not immediately available to the public.
“And often the public doesn’t hear yet in time things that are being collected. So there’s a lot of data, clearly a lot of data, that’s being collected by the CDC that people don’t know about yet. So we need to make sure in real time we get that data out,” he began:
Historically, when you’re not in a pandemic, you can collect data, you can analyze it, you could talk about it and then you could look back and say this is what we’ve done. But when you’re dealing with a pandemic, you’ve got to get that out in real time so your policies can be dictated by data that occurred relatively recently, not data that occurred four or five months ago.
“That’s the criticism that they’re too academic,” Brennan said, garnering Fauci’s agreement.
“But is there data being collected now in the United States about breakthrough infections that the public doesn’t know about?” she asked.
“Yes, yes. Yes. The CDC is collecting data, yes,” Fauci added.
Brennan asked Fauci yet again if he had “any idea of what’s happening with breakthrough infections” among “everyday people,” and he was unable to provide an answer.
“I don’t have the data for you right now,” he said. “That’s obviously- we’ll have to get the CDC to get us that.”