Moderna CEO: Booster Shot Could be Ready by Fall

NEW YORK -
Boxes of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are stored in a refrigerator at an ambulance company in Santa Fe Springs, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Moderna may have a vaccine booster shot to go with its two-shot coronavirus vaccine as soon as this fall, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview.

“I want to make sure there are boost vaccines available in the fall so that we protect people as we go into the next fall and winter season in the U.S.,” Bancel told CNBC.

The Food and Drug Administration indicated it would authorize modified coronavirus vaccines similarly to the system used for annual flu vaccines, meaning it would be approved quickly and without the usual lengthy trials in case of an emergency.

The Moderna vaccines in trials run by the company were found to be 90% effective for six months after the second dose, and 95% effective against developing a severe case of Covid.

However, medical experts are wary of the variants, especially the B.1.351 variant from South Africa.

The National Institutes of Health began testing booster options in March, in anticipation of potentially using booster vaccines to protect against more infectious variants that are resistant to the coronavirus vaccines currently in use.

“Our goal is to work really hard to get this ready before the fall,” Bancel emphasized. “I anticipate in the next year or so, we’re going to see a lot of variants. But as more and more people get vaccinated or naturally infected, the pace of the variant is going to slow down and the virus is going to stabilize like you see with flu.”

He praised the FDA for its speedy response to reports of blood clots appearing in less than a dozen out of 6.8 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The pausing of Johnson & Johnson distribution shows ““the FDA will not hesitate to be very cautious to analyze the data, to take the time required to do so, to protect the safety of the American people,” he said.

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smarcus@hamodia.com