Moderna CEO Says There Could Be a Big Difference in Your Next Vaccine

The executive says boosters could incorporate another important annual immunization.

The rollout of vaccines across the U.S. continues to speed up, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showing that nearly 50 percent of the national population above the age of 18 has received at least one shot. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have both shown to be effective for at least half a year after they're administered, most experts agree that booster shots will be required for each to keep the public protected. Now, according to a recent interview with CNBC, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel says that the next COVID vaccine shot you get could have one big difference. Read on to see what this next dose could do, and for more immunization information, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.

The Moderna CEO hopes to combine seasonal flu shots with COVID vaccine boosters.

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During an appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box on Apr. 14, Bancel spoke about the future of Moderna's COVID vaccine and what potential changes were in the works. He revealed that following a Sept. 2o2o announcement that the company was developing its own seasonal flu vaccine, boosters in the future might be able to save you an extra trip to the pharmacy.

"What we're trying to do at Moderna actually is try to get a flu vaccine in the clinic this year and then combine our flu vaccine to our COVID vaccine, so you only have to get one boost at your local CVS store … every year that would protect you to the variant of concern against COVID and the seasonal flu strain," Bancel said.

"We believe we can get to a high efficacy flu vaccine," he added. Bancel is hopeful Moderna's version will be able to provide better efficacy than current vaccines, which average between 40 and 60 percent depending on the year, according to the CDC.

And speaking of vaccine efficacy, check out This Is How Long the Moderna Vaccine Really Protects You, New Study Says.

Bancel hopes to release the first booster in time for any autumn surges.

A pair of scientists working in a lab while wearing full protective gear, with one holding a syringe
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The Moderna CEO also divulged information on the company's first COVID vaccine booster shot, which is being developed to help increase effectiveness against new variants of the virus that have emerged and can sometimes evade the vaccine. He was also optimistic that the shots might be ready in time to help stop another seasonal surge.

"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.," Bancel told CNBC. And for more on post-shot preparedness, Make Sure to Do This the Day After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Say.

Bancel reiterated that COVID is going to be with us forever as a virus.

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Bancel also took an opportunity during the interview to reiterate that COVID-19 would likely become endemic—meaning it will exist permanently at lower levels while rarely causing serious illness in people. Because the virus "is not going away" and "not leaving the planet," Bancel said annual boosters would be needed.

He also offered a timeline on the eventual transition from active pandemic to post-COVID reality. "I anticipate in the next year or so, we're going to see a lot of variants. 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," Bancel said.

And for more on when we'll reach this stage, check out This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.

Pfizer's CEO agrees that COVID boosters will likely be an annual event.

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Bancel is also not alone in his prediction that COVID shots might become a yearly event. During an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt in February, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla discussed his own company's trials for a potential third dose of its vaccine to make it more effective against mutated versions of the virus, including the highly transmissible South African variant. He explained that such mutations should be expected of any virus and they're why annual shots are required for other diseases.

"Every year, you need to go to get your flu vaccine," Bourla said. "It's going to be the same with COVID. In a year, you will have to go and get your annual shot for COVID to be protected." And for more on what could affect how protected you are, check out This Common Medication Can Make Your Vaccine Less Effective, Study Says.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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