Moderna CEO says Americans likely to need fourth COVID-19 shot

As the effectiveness of the COVID-19 booster shots wane, Moderna's Stephane Bancel says another booster is likely ahead

With Americans rolling up their sleeves a third time for a booster shot, many are wondering if a fourth shot is on the way. American have been hearing buss about a fourth dose for some time, and some countries, such as Israel, are already going that route, so what’s the status of getting another shot in the U.S.?

On Thursday (Jan. 6), Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel opened up about the COVID-19 booster shot situation in a new interview, stating the shots will probably be less effective as time goes on. Moreover, people might require a fourth shot in the fall to stay protected.

Bancel explained that people who got boosted last fall or this winter will probably have enough protection for now, but the effectiveness of the boosters will probably decline over the next several months. The news came during an interview with Goldman Sachs.

“I will be surprised when we get that data in the coming weeks that it’s holding nicely over time — I would expect that it’s not going to hold great,” Bancel said in the interview.

Coronavirus cases are surging, largely due to the highly contagious omicron variant that’s making its way across the U.S. According to Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases is currently more than 574,000 new cases daily.

According to Bancel, many governments, including the U.K. and South Korea, are already ordering fourth doses, adding that he still believes “we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward.” For seniors and those with underlying health conditions, annual shots could be the norm.

“We have been saying that we believe first this virus is not going away,” the CEO said. “We’re going to have to live with it.”

According to preliminary data from Moderna, the company’s current 50 microgram booster shot increases the antibodies that block infection from omicron 37-fold. If they were to up the booster to 100 micrograms, it would be 83-fold. That’s quite a jolt.

United Kingdom reports confirm that boosters are a reality. According to the U.K.’s data, published by the U.K. Health Security Agency, Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines are roughly 10% effective at preventing patients from coming down with symptomatic infection from omicron 20 weeks after receiving the second shot.

The study also states that booster shots an upwards of 75% effective at preventing symptomatic infection two weeks after receiving the third shot. After a month, that effectiveness goes down. By five to nine weeks, boosters were 55% to 70% effective. By 10 weeks, they were 40% to 50% effective.

In other news, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday (Jan. 7) stated adults, 18 and older, who received the Moderna vaccine may have a booster shot five months after their second shot, down from six. A few days ago, the FDA approved people ages 12 and older with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine to get their booster at least five months after their second shot.

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