Tags: Moderna | booster shot | vaccine

Moderna Says Its Booster Shot Could Be Available by Fall

Moderna Says Its Booster Shot Could Be Available by Fall
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Wednesday, 14 April 2021 06:30 PM

The pharmaceutical giant Moderna may have a booster shot that will neutralize COVID-19 variants by autumn. The company’s CEO, Stephan Bancel, told CNBC's Squawk Box: “I want to make sure there are boost vaccines available in the fall so we can protect people as we go into the next fall and winter season in the U.S.”

According to The Hill, Bancel said that Moderna would submit data on its booster shots to federal regulatory authorities to demonstrate its efficacy against COVID-19 variants.

“COVID-19 is not going away. It’s not leaving the planet,” Bancel said, adding that with the variants mutating, getting a booster shot custom designed to neutralize whatever form of the coronavirus is dominant would be the logical and most effective path to take.

Bancel said that with more vaccinations and more people getting infected, the pace of COVID-19 will naturally slow down, much like influenza. The National Institutes of Health began testing Moderna’s booster shot last months against the virulent South African variant that is causing concern among public health officials.

According to The Hill, the B.1.351 mutation appears to be more contagious and could possibly evade protection from the existing vaccines. But experts say that with mRNA vaccines, such a Moderna’s and the Pfizer drug, the vaccine can be easily updated to accommodate variants, as long as we remain vigilant and screen for mutations before they become too virulent, according to Fast Company.

“With an RNA vaccine, it’s very easy to switch,” said Dr. Drew Weissman, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in mRNA technology and vaccine research. To design the current mRNA vaccines, scientists typed in the genetic code of the virus to help our immune cells identify the invader. To revise the vaccines, researchers would then type in the new genetic code of the dominant variant so that our cells would have an updated version of instructions. According to Fast Company, such a revision could be done in around 6 weeks.

Weissman said that the only undetermined factor is how the Food and Drug Administration would view the changes in terms of its approval of the vaccine modification. Officials might say these changes would probably not need additional clinical testing since we currently revise the flu vaccine annually to adjust its effectiveness. On the other hand, regulators may require additional testing, per Fast Company.

Weissman said that for right now, the current virus has only a few mutations and the vaccines can still easily target the spike protein. However, the expert warned that as the mutations become more pronounced, especially in parts of the world where vaccination is going to be delayed for years, the virus may elude our current vaccinations and even reinfect people.

Moderna’s booster prediction comes the day after the company announced that its vaccine was 90% effective for six months after an individual gets both doses, according to the Hill. The company is also working on obtaining full FDA approval for the vaccine as it is currently authorized only for emergency use during the pandemic.

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The pharmaceutical giant Moderna may have a booster shot that will neutralize COVID-19 variants by autumn...
Moderna, booster shot, vaccine
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 06:30 PM
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