Omicron this, Omicron that. Some of these pharma execs are saying don’t Omi-cry about it. The newest COVID variant may be completely chill or it could be a wee bit of a disaster – or at least that’s what I’m gleaning from three different interviews from three different science guys that came out this week. None of them agree, and thus they are fomenting drama. It is frankly exhausting.
On Monday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC he felt confident that his company’s COVID pill, Paxlovid, would be effective against the Omicron variant. “The good news when it comes to our treatment, it was designed with that in mind, it was designed with the fact that most mutations are coming in the spikes,” Bourla said on Squawk Box, which is apparently a show that has been on the air since 1995. “So that gives me very high level of confidence that the treatment will not be affected, our oral treatment will not be affected by this virus.” It should be noted that Paxlovid has not yet been approved by the FDA.
When it comes to vaccines, however, Bourla was a little less sure as to how Omicron would affect efficacy. “I don’t think that the result will be the vaccines don’t protect,” Bourla said. “I think the result could be, which we don’t know yet, the vaccines protect less.” Pfizer has already begun work on a new vaccine specifically for the Omicron variant. J’adore a bespoke moment.
In an interview with Insider on Tuesday, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer Mikael Dolsten said that he doesn’t have enough information to know whether or not Omicron is going to wipe us out, but he’ll circle back. The worst case scenario is that we’ll all need a Omicron-specific shot, but we won’t know about that until we see how the current vaccines hold up against the virus.
"If we exceed a tenfold drop in neutralization of Omicron, I think we are starting to enter the yellow to red zone, when your immunity is likely lowered and there's limited time after your boost until waning," Dolsten said. I don’t totally know what that means because I am bad at both math and science, which is why I work here. But from parsing the article very closely, it seems like Dolsten is saying that we should start to worry if lab tests reveal that Omicron takes away a significant number of our antibodies. And we don’t know if it does that yet. Ok.
Dolsten is also waiting to see whether or not Omicron overtakes Delta as the main COVID variant. His thoughts on that? “We'll likely know in December.” Well, rabbit rabbit, bitch. It’s December and I would like some answers.
Last but not least, BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal yesterday which left us with some insightful and helpful wisdom: “Don’t freak out,” he said. Thank you, Dr. Sahin, for saying in plain English the exact thing that I wanted to hear.