Moderna, Inc. CEO Stephane Bancel said a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot may be required in fall of 2022 for better protection against coronavirus, particularly the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. He added that the efficacy of the first booster against COVID-19 will likely decline over time.
Bancel was speaking during an healthcare CEO conference being conducted by investment bank Goldman Sachs on Thursday.
Bancel noted that the protection of the booster dose wanes over a few months just as what happened after the initial two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. He also added that people who are older or have underlying health conditions might need annual boosters for years to come.
“We have been saying that we believe first this virus is not going away,” Bancel said. “We’re gonna have to live with it.”
Meanwhile, Bancel warned that a random mutation could change the course of the pandemic again.
According to preliminary data published by Moderna last month, the currently authorized 50 mcg booster shot helped increase the antibodies that block infection from omicron 37-fold. However, a 100 mcg booster shot showed a 83-fold increase in antibodies that protected against the omicron variant of coronavirus.
Bancel noted that Britain and South Korea have already placed orders for the fourth vaccine shot. He added that Moderna is working on a vaccine candidate tailored to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but is not likely to be available in the next two months.
Bancel’s comments came close on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying that a recent showed that a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold, a week after the shot is administered.
The Omicron variant of coronavirus compromises the effects of two-dose mRNA vaccine-induced antibodies and reduces the overall protection, according to Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci.
However, clinical studies indicate that booster doses reconstitute the antibody titers and enhance the vaccine protection against Omicron to provide considerable protection against severe disease.
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