Moderna CEO Says 4th COVID Dose May Be Needed Next Fall

Friday, January. 6, 2022 — Moderna CEO Stefan Bancel said Thursday that a fourth dose of COVID may be needed for most people by next fall due to what is likely to erode immunity.

While the boost that millions of Americans got last fall should remain going strong during this winter’s Omicron boost, Bancel said the efficacy of the boosters will likely decline over several months, similar to what happened with the first two doses.

Bancel said about the booster shots during an interview with Goldman Sachs during a healthcare executive conference, CNBC reported.

He added that governments, including the United Kingdom and South Korea, are already requiring the doses in preparation.

“I still think we’ll need boosters in the fall of 22 and beyond,” Bancel said, adding that people who are older or have underlying health conditions may need annual boosters for years to come.

“We’ve said that we first believe this virus is not going to go away,” Bancel noted. “We have to live with it.”

Moderna published preliminary data last month showing that the currently allowed 50-mcg booster shot increases infection-preventing antibodies from Omicron 37-fold. A 100 mcg booster increased those antibodies 83-fold.

Meanwhile, data from the United Kingdom found that the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are only 10% effective in preventing symptomatic infection from Omicron 20 weeks after the second dose, CNBC mentioned.

The same study, published by the UK’s Health Security Agency, found booster doses of up to 75% effective in preventing symptomatic infection two weeks after receiving the shot.

The study found that the strength of the booster injections begins to wane after about four weeks. The boosters were 55% to 70% effective in preventing infection in weeks 5 to 9, and 40% to 50% effective 10 weeks after receiving the injection.

Moderna’s vaccine is not the only one that may require a fourth dose at some point.

Albert Burla, CEO of Pfizer, said: CNBC In the past month, people will likely need a fourth dose, and the injection may be needed sooner than expected due to the virulence of Omicron.

However, Bancel issued a positive note Thursday, saying that Omicron could speed the transition from the acute crisis caused by the coronavirus to a stage where enough people have a certain level of immunity so that COVID-19 does not upend daily life.

But he added, “What is absolutely impossible to predict, is there a new mutation coming in a day, a week or three months that is worse in terms of the severity of the disease.” “This is a piece we have to be careful about.”

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