Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Modern co-founder tells Bloomberg News that 2022 could be the year the pandemic enters the endemic phase.

The pandemic could begin to move into an endemic phase in 2022, although countries will have to remain vigilant as the omicron variant spreads, according to Moderna Inc. co-founder Noubar Afeyan.

While some countries are slowly beginning to consider treating Covid as an endemic disease, such as the flu, World Health Organization officials have said it is too early to make that call as cases increase.

“2022 may be the year the pandemic enters an endemic phase, but it really depends on what happens and the decisions that are made around the world,” Afeyan said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Francine Lacqua on Friday. Although omicron is highly transmissible, “on the other hand, it has a lesser effect in terms of the severity of the disease,” he said.

Moderna’s omicron-specific booster shot could begin in human trials within weeks, he said, reiterating remarks made by CEO Stephane Bancel earlier this week. The CEO said he expects another charger will be needed in the fall, and it will likely include a component adapted for omicron.

“We will be ready with our testing starting in weeks,” Afeyan said Friday. “Whether we need a booster in the spring rather than the fall is something we will have to work with officials around the world to sort out.”

Moderna shares fell 3.3% in New York futures trading.

Modern, with Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, have developed highly efficient Covid-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA technology. Moderna said earlier this week that it had signed $ 18.5 billion in vaccine purchase agreements for this year, along with options for another $ 3.5 billion, including booster shots.

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