Vaccine boss’s startling prediction about pandemic’s end

·3-min read

Moderna Inc Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel thinks the coronavirus pandemic could be over in a year as increased vaccine production ensures global supplies, he told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

"If you look at the industry-wide expansion of production capacities over the past six months, enough doses should be available by the middle of next year so that everyone on this earth can be vaccinated," he told the newspaper in an interview.

"Boosters should also be possible to the extent required."

A doctor administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in a temporary vaccination center, where a voucher for a doner kebab is issued after the vaccination, on the third day of the #HierWirdGeimpft (Get Vaccinated Here) Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
Moderna Inc's Chief Executive believes the end of the coronavirus pandemic is in sight. Source: AAP

"Those who do not get vaccinated will immunise themselves naturally, because the Delta variant is so contagious," he said. 

"In this way we will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu. 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."

Asked if that meant a return to normal in the second half of next year, he said: "As of today, in a year, I assume.

Booster shot approval expected

Mr Bancel said he expected governments to approve booster shots for people already vaccinated because patients at risk who were vaccinated last autumn "undoubtedly" needed a refresher.

Its booster shot had half the dose of the original dose, which meant more of them would be available.

"The volume of vaccine is 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.

Pictured is Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel attends a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel says enough vaccine doses for everyone on earth should be available next year. Source: AP Photo

The composition of the booster shot remains the same as the original for this year because Moderna had not had enough time to change it.

"We are currently testing Delta-optimised 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."

Moderna can use existing production lines for the new variants as for the original Covid-19 vaccine. The price of vaccination will stay the same, he said.

Doctors back vaccinating young Aussie children

Australian doctors have backed vaccinating children aged between 5 and 11 against coronavirus in schools as early as next year.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday a rollout for younger children would depend on clinical trials and regulatory approval.

"I suspect that a school-based vaccine program will take place next year because it will take that long for various approvals to come through and we need to have vaccine supply," he said.

Pfizer has signalled it will seek regulatory approval in the US, Europe and elsewhere for its shot to be used on children aged five to 11 after promising clinical trial results.

Children aged between 12 and 15-years old are eligible to get Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but a jab has yet to be approved for younger children.

With Reuters and AAP

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