Moderna CEO: 80 Percent Chance Next COVID Strain ‘Less Virulent’ Than Omicron

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia on Wednesday that he is confident the next strain of COVID-19 will travel slower than the omicron variant.

Bancel also told the network that it is “reasonable” to assume that the world is approaching the final stages of the pandemic.

“There’s an 80% chance that as omicron evolves or SarsCov-2 virus evolves, we are going to see less and less virulent viruses,” Bancel said.

“I think we got lucky as a world that omicron was not very virulent, but still we are seeing thousands of people dying every day around the planet because of omicron,” he added.

Bancel’s latest statement contradicts comments from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), last month.

Tedros, while addressing the WHO executive board on Jan. 24, warned that it is dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that “we’re in the endgame.”

“On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,” he continued. “To change the course of the pandemic, we must change the conditions that are driving it.”

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci also said in January that it is still an “open question” about whether the omicron variant will mark the final wave of the pandemic, The New York Times reported at the time.

While appearing on The Davos Agenda virtual event, Fauci said that he hopes the next COVID variant is less severe, “But that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant.”

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