Moderna chief sees pandemic lasting another year

The coronavirus pandemic could end in a year as the pace of vaccine production has increased global supply, according to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel

Bancel told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung that given the rate of production over the last six months, “enough doses should be available by the middle of next year so that everyone on this earth can be vaccinated,” adding that boosters could also be available as needed as well as vaccines for infants, according to Reuters

"Those who do not get vaccinated will immunize themselves naturally, because the Delta variant is so contagious. In this way we will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu,” Bancel continued. “You can either get vaccinated and have a good winter. Or you don't do it and risk getting sick and possibly even ending up in hospital."

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Reuters reported that Bancel additionally expects governments to approve booster shots for vulnerable populations, noting his company’s booster shot contained half of the original dose  making the vaccine’s volume “the biggest limiting factor.”

“With half the dose, we would have 3 billion doses available worldwide for the coming year instead of just 2 billion," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration approved on Wednesday COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for people 65 and older as well as other “high risk” groups. 

Global vaccine data shows that 43.9 percent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Yet a disparity persists between the world’s wealthiest nations and lower- and middle-income countries. Approximately 2.1 percent of populations in lower- and middle-income countries are partially vaccinated.  

Bancel reportedly added that Moderna is “currently testing Delta-optimized variants in clinical trials.” 

"They will form the basis for the booster vaccination for 2022. We are also trying out Delta plus Beta, the next mutation that scientists believe is likely," he said.