Moderna is working on a booster for the fall that will target the Omicron variant, CEO Stéphane Bancel says

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Pfizer and Moderna vaccine vials
Vials of the Pfizer (left) and Moderna (right) COVID-19 vaccines.Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images
  • Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company was working on a new booster for its coronavirus vaccine.

  • The booster should be available this fall and will target the Omicron variant, he said.

  • "We need to be careful to try to stay ahead of a virus and not behind the virus," he told CNBC.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel on Monday said the company is working to develop a booster shot for its coronavirus vaccine that would work against the Omicron variant of the infectious disease.

The booster shot will soon enter clinical trials and is set for distribution this fall, Bancel said during an interview Monday morning on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"We are discussing with public health leaders around the world to decide what we think is the best strategy for the potential booster for the fall of 2022," he said. "We believe it will contain Omicron."

He said Moderna was still deciding if the booster needed additional components.

"We need to be careful to try to stay ahead of a virus and not behind the virus," he added.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also said on Monday that his company was working on a new shot that would be effective in fighting the Omicron variant.

"This vaccine will be ready in March," Bourla told CNBC.

The Omicron variant has driven a new global surge of COVID-19.

As Insider's Marianne Guenot previously reported, data shows the vaccines are less effective in preventing Omicron transmission than with previous trains, like the Delta variant, but protection against hospitalization remains high.

A UK study of multiple vaccines showed that one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine reduced the likelihood of hospitalization by 52% compared to those who weren't vaccinated at all. Two doses of a vaccine reduced hospitalization by 72% and three doses reduced it by 88% compared with unvaccinated individuals, Insider reported.

Bancel told CNBC on Monday that Moderna had reached agreements with several countries, including the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Switzerland, to provide booster doses for the fall. He said the company could supply between 2 and 3 billion booster doses this year.

While the Omicron variant appears to cause a more mild infection than other strains of the coronavirus, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against classifying the disease as "mild."

"Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people, and it is killing people," he said.

The latest estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the Omicron variant accounts for about 95% of all current COVID-19 cases reported in the country.

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