Stéphane Bancel made the announcement during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday, saying the company is working towards the booster shot in case it will be needed against emerging variants of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus—which causes the disease COVID-19.
“I anticipate in the next year or so, we’re going to see a lot of variants,” Bancel said. “But as more and more people get vaccinated or naturally infected, the pace of the variant is going to slow down and the virus is going to stabilize like you see with flu.”
“I want to make sure there are boost vaccines available in the fall so that we protect people as we go into the next fall and winter season in the U.S.,” he said.
Although Moderna is developing the new vaccine booster and plans to make it available by next year, the company said its current vaccine still offers protection against several emerging variants, according to internal data from a small laboratory study (pdf) between Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
In new research published by the Massachusetts-based company on Tuesday, it said a phase 3 study shows the current COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective against all cases of the virus, and more than 95 percent effective against severe cases of the virus up to six months after the second shot.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the protection from the Moderna vaccine lasts for at least six months. To this date, Moderna has delivered about 132 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine globally.
COVID-19 is caused by the CCP virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, which originated in China in late 2019.
In the research, Bancel noted that teams of scientists will progress clinical data from “variant-specific booster candidates” as soon as possible and will continue to update on its findings.
“We are looking forward to having the clinical data from our variant-specific booster candidates, as well as clinical data from the Phase 2/3 study of our COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents,” Bancel said.
“The new preclinical data on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants,” he continued. “Moderna will make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control.”
Earlier this year, the company announced it has been developing a new vaccine to use as a third shot, or booster, to combat more contagious variants of the CCP virus, including the variant that was first detected in South Africa.
To this date, B.1.1.7, is the most dominant in the United States with 20,915 reported cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC).
Bancel also said Wednesday COVID-19 is not going to be “leaving the planet” and reiterated his belief that an annual booster vaccine will become commonplace going forward.