Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Stephane Bancel, head of Moderna Inc., also said Omicron could move the world rapidly to an endemic phase where most people are exposed to the coronavirus.

By Bloomberg

Moderna Inc. CEO Stephane Bancel said another round of vaccines against Covid-19 is likely to be needed this fall, even as immunity to the fast-spreading omikron variant is widespread.

Highly contagious omicron could quickly move the world to an endemic phase where most people are exposed to the virus, the vaccine CEO said during a presentation late Thursday at a healthcare conference hosted by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Yet it is not yet clear how long. protection against current round boosters will hold up before it fades, and scientists also cannot predict the potential impact of future mutations on the severity of the disease, he said.

“Assuming omicron is an accelerator to the endemic phase, I still believe we’ll need boosters in the fall of ’22 and beyond,” Bancel said in a presentation. However, reinforcements given this month or in the last quarter of 2021 are likely to last until spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere, he said.

Moderna Inc.  CEO Stephane BancelStephane Bancel, Modern CEO [File: Bloomberg]

Modern and Competitive Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE has an interest in pushing policymakers to regular Covid shots. Countries around the world have rushed forward with booster drives in an effort to slow down omicron’s spread, even though it is unclear how long the boosters will protect against infection. Israel has begun offering a fourth dose of the vaccine to people 60 years and older, as the country struggles with record numbers of new cases.

Early data from the UK last month indicated that protection against a booster against infection with omicron is declining faster than seen against the delta variant. However, if a pattern previously seen with delta holds, the vaccines will continue to prevent people from becoming seriously ill.

Moderna continues to work on an omicron-specific shot and expects to begin human trials soon, Bancel said. The company will also continue to look at shots tailored for a combination of different strains, he said.

Shares rose 1.2% in New York at 9:39 p.m.

(Update shares in last paragraph.)

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