Americans might start getting a 3rd booster shot for Moderna vaccines this year

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Moderna vaccine
A scientist works in the Moderna lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 28, 2020. David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
  • Moderna said it hopes to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the US by the end of the year.

  • Booster shots are designed to protect against coronavirus variants that cause COVID-19.

  • The spread of variants and slow vaccine rollouts have led to a rise in cases globally.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

COVID-19 vaccinations aren't stopping anytime soon.

Moderna said on Wednesday that Americans could start getting booster shots later this year to protect against coronavirus variants.

"It is likely that the countries that have already achieved high vaccine coverage are going to be ready to shift their focus to boosters in 2022 and possibly even starting at the end of this year," Corinne M. Le Goff, Moderna's chief commercial officer, said during a call with investors.

Le Goff said that countries like the US that quickly inoculate their populations could start getting booster shots soon, but because just about 5% of the global population has been vaccinated, most countries would continue giving residents the initial shots.

"I hope this summer to get the vaccine authorized for a boost so that we can help people getting boosted before the fall, so that we all have a normal fall and not a fall and winter like we just saw in the last six months," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in an interview with Insider on Tuesday.

Read more: GlaxoSmithKline stumbled with COVID-19 shots. Now it's facing an exodus of US talent and an uncertain future as the world's vaccine leader.

The US had administered more than 85 million doses of Moderna's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine as of mid-April. Nearly half of American adults have received at least one shot of a vaccine from Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though the vaccines authorized for emergency use in many countries are highly effective, delays in rollouts and the spread of variants have led to an increase in COVID-19 cases globally. Many European countries have enforced shutdowns and curfews in the "third wave" of the pandemic, and COVID-19 cases reached record highs in India and Brazil this spring.

Epidemiologists have predicted that COVID-19 will become endemic, likely to continue spreading as a mild, flu-like illness after the pandemic subsides. Researchers may regularly produce booster shots to protect against new variants, similar to how they develop vaccines for the flu every season.

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