As public health authorities around the world grapple with the highly transmittable Delta Variant, debating whether extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary, Moderna Inc has said its COVID-19 shots was about 93 percent effective for a period of four to six months after the administration of a second dose which shows there is no change from the 94 percent efficacy reported in its original clinical trial.
Stéphane Bancel, Moderna chief executive, in a statement recently, said “We are very pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine efficacy is stable at 93 percent from four to six months. This strong duration will benefit the hundreds of millions of people who have been dosed to date with Moderna vaccines.” He said a booster dose will be necessary before the winter season as antibody levels are likely to decline.
The CEO also revealed that the company’s ongoing studies of three different booster candidates induced robust antibody responses against important variants of concern. These included the Gamma, Beta, and Delta variants which were first identified in Brazil, South Africa and India respectively. It said neutralizing antibody levels following the boost approached those observed after the second shot of its vaccine.
“For this year, Moderna has signed $20 billion worth of sales and expects to be able to produce between 800 million and 1 billion doses of the vaccine. It has agreements for $12 billion in 2022, with options for another roughly $8 billion. It expects to be able to produce between 2 and 3 billion doses next year,” Bancel said.
However, the report from Moderna boss compared favourably to data released by competitors Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, days ago which showed that the efficacy of their vaccines waned by around 6 percent every two months, falling to around 84 percent six months after second shot.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Meanwhile, Pfizer is planning to seek authorization for a third shot later this month, and some countries like Israel have begun or plan to start administering shots to older or vulnerable people.
Moderna’s vaccine was approved for emergency use in adults in the United States in December and has since been cleared for emergency or conditional use in adults in more than 50 countries. Meanwhile, the company started the process of filing for full approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June and expects to finish its submission this August.