Moderna CEO says people may need a fourth Covid shot because boosters’ effectiveness may decrease over time

A nurse prepares a syringe with a dose of Moderna coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the Enfermera Isabel Zendal hospital in Madrid, Spain, July 23, 2021.

Juan Medina | Reuters

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel on Thursday said the booster’s effectiveness against Covid-19 is likely to decrease over time and people may need a fourth shot in the fall of 2022 to gain a boost. protection ability.

Bancel said people who receive their boosters in the fall of 2021 will likely have enough protection to weather the winter, when new infections increase as people gather indoors to escape the cold.

However, Bancel said the booster’s effectiveness will likely decrease over several months, similar to what happened with the first two doses. The Moderna director was interviewed by Goldman Sachs during the investment bank’s Healthcare CEOs conference.

“I would be surprised when we get that data in the coming weeks that it holds up well over time – I expect it won’t be very good,” Bancel said, referring to the strength of the spikes. booster injection.

The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented increase in infections caused by omicrons. The US, for example, is reporting a seven-day average of more than 574,000 new cases per day, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Moderna CEO expects another round of boosters will be needed in the fall of 2022. He said governments, including Britain and South Korea, have ordered preparations to be fired.

“I still believe we will need boosters by the fall of ’22 onward,” Bancel said, adding that people who are older or have underlying health conditions may need boosters every year for many years. next year.

“We’ve said we believe this virus won’t go away first,” Bancel said. “We’ll have to live with it.”

Moderna released preliminary data last month showing that their now authorized 50-microgram booster shot increased the amount of infection-blocking antibodies from omicrons by 37-fold. A booster dose of 100 micrograms increased those antibodies 83-fold.

Booster injections are increasingly important in public health strategies for virus control since protected from the original two photos took a significant hit from the omicron.

Field data from the UK show that Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines are only about 10% effective at preventing symptomatic infections due to omicrons 20 weeks after the second dose.

The same study published by the UK Health Security Agency found that the booster dose was effective at preventing symptomatic infections by up to 75% two weeks after the injection.

However, the effectiveness of booster shots started to decrease after about 4 weeks, according to the study. The booster was 55% to 70% effective at preventing infection at weeks 5 to 9 and 40% to 50% effective at 10 weeks after injection.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC last month that people will probably need a fourth dose and may need it earlier than expected due to the omicron variation.

Bancel, in the Goldman Sachs interview, said omicrons could accelerate the transition from the acute crisis caused by the virus to the endemic phase, where enough people have immune protection for Covid to not cause affect community life.

However, he also warned against predictions, noting that the omicron, with its dozens of mutations, has surprised scientists the most. Data to date suggest that omicrons are more transmissible but less severe than previous strains.

However, a random mutation could change the course of the pandemic again, Bancel said.

“It’s completely unpredictable, whether a new mutation occurs in a day, a week, three months,” Bancel said. “That’s the part where we’re going to have to be cautious.”


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