Covid-19 News South Africa

Bancel says he's working to get Moderna vaccine in Hong Kong

Moderna CEO, Stephane Bancel, says he's working to get his firm's Covid vaccine authorised in Hong Kong
Source: Moderna
Source: Moderna

This is amidst a surge of infections ravaging the city which is under severe restrictions.

Bancel of the biotechnology firm says the Moderna vaccine is currently not available in Hong Kong.

This news comes days after a social-media controversy around Bancel who deleted his Twitter account and dumped $400m of Moderna stock.

One Instagram post claimed the Covid-19 vaccine maker "seems to know some bad news is coming", while others say there is no evidence to suggest that action is linked to his stock trades or bad news about the company.

One source says he did not "dump" $400 million of stock, rather that his stock sales happened over more than two years, as part of a series of regularly scheduled trades. The most recent sales amounted to $6.1m. He still owns 21.8 million shares of Moderna stock, it said.

Earlier this week, another [ publication]] reported Moderna’s share price fell significantly, owing to the rapid drop in Omicron case numbers in the US. This prompted White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to talk about the country’s exiting the “full-blown pandemic phase” of Covid-19, it said.

In a recent statement to the CNBC, Bancel said it was a reasonable perception that the Covid-19 pandemic is now in its final stages of evolution. "While the virus will be around forever there is an 80% chance that as Omicron evolves, there will be less virulent variants; and a 20% chance we will see a next mutation which is more virulent. We got lucky as a world that Omicron was not very virulent," he said.

On Wednesday, he again referred to the need for annual boosters, but only for high-risk people such as the over-fifties and those with significant comorbidity factors.

"We're seeing thousands of people dying everyday around the planet because of Omicron, and if you look at it, this virus is very unpredictable," he said.

While Bancel in his recent media interview said "we want to help as many people as we can", his company has refused to participate in a project by the World Health Organization (WHO) and South African scientists to create a new mRNA Covid vaccine that is based on certain publicly available information about Moderna’s vaccine.

A recent report says the Cape Town–based biotech Afrigen has successfully made tiny lab-scale samples of the new vaccine, but production will take a few years to scale up. This is unless Moderna or another mRNA vaccine–maker helps Afrigen figure out key details.

The estimation is that case doses could hit the ground within 12 to 18 months.

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