Moderna said Thursday that people will likely need a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to protect against future mutations of the coronavirus, touting the “robust” antibody response generated by the additional shot.
Vaccine developers at Moderna “are looking forward towards our vision of a single dose annual booster that provides protection against COVID-19, flu and [respiratory syncytial virus] for adults. … We believe this is just the beginning,” CEO Stephane Bancel said.
The company has conducted studies to determine the benefits of administering a third “booster” shot of its two-dose vaccine to protect against the highly contagious delta variant that accounts for a majority of COVID-19 cases, as well as any future strains of the virus that develop.
Moderna’s Phase 2 trial of a 50-microgram booster dose generated a strong immune response against the delta, gamma, and beta variants — all of which seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which could lead to more COVID-19 outbreaks. The third dose produced an antibody response nearly as strong as the response generated in previously unvaccinated people who received the first two doses of the vaccine.
The company also reported that its two-dose vaccine created lasting immunity months after receiving the second shot. The vaccine was still 93% effective after six months, compared to an efficacy rate of about 94% two weeks after received the second shot.
Pfizer, meanwhile, reported last week that the overall effectiveness of its two-dose vaccine fell from 96% to 84% in the six months following the second shot.
Moderna published news of its booster’s efficacy in its quarterly earnings report, which shows the company sold $4.2 billion worth of vaccine from April through June.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has maintained that a booster shot is not necessary to protect against COVID-19 variants. The CDC's vaccine guidance for healthcare professionals says patients are fully protected two weeks after the second of two doses and that “no additional doses are recommended at this time.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Monday that the agency is “trying hard to encourage people to report on the safety side if people have taken the initiative to get their third shot, again not yet recommended, but we have the capacity and are looking at those data right now.”
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Original Author: Cassidy Morrison