‘This virus isn’t going away’

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, attends the Forbes Healthcare Summit 2019 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 5, 2019 in New York City.

Steven Ferdman | Getty Images

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said Thursday the company expects more Covid-19 variants to hit the market in the coming months as the southern hemisphere enters the fall and winter seasons.

Talking to investors about a first-quarter earnings call, Bancel said people will likely need booster shots of his two-dose Covid-19 vaccine as the virus circulates around the world.

“There are always new worrying variants around the world. And we believe that in the next six months, when the southern hemisphere enters autumn and winter, more worrying variants may emerge,” Bancel said. The southern hemisphere includes Africa, Australia, most of South America, and parts of Asia. “We believe booster vaccinations will be needed as we believe the virus will not go away.”

The CEO’s comments come a day after the company announced that a booster shot of its vaccine triggered a promising immune response against variants B.1.351 and P.1, which were first identified in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. The variants have since expanded to other countries, including the United States

The data are preliminary and have not yet been reviewed by colleagues.

Moderna’s vaccine requires two doses four weeks apart. As with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the shot against Covid is very effective, although company executives and officials now say they expect this strong protection to wear off over time. Pfizer’s vaccine is also a two-dose therapy, while the J&J immunization is just one burst.

Earlier Thursday, Moderna said the sale of its successful vaccine helped generate its first-ever quarterly profit.

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine had sales of $ 1.7 billion, according to earnings reports. The company also raised its 2021 sales forecast for its vaccine to $ 19.2 billion from its previous forecast of $ 18.4 billion. Bancel said the company is “actively involved” in discussions and agreements for 2022 with all governments it currently serves.

Earlier this week, rival Pfizer also raised its vaccine sales forecast, forecasting total annual sales of $ 26 billion.

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