The chairman and co-founder of drugmaker Moderna, Noubar Afeyan, said Tuesday that yearly COVID-19 vaccine boosters may be required in the future.
In an interview with Fox News’ “Mornings with Maria,” Afeyan said that if the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus becomes endemic—having a constant presence in the world, in certain areas or populations—a regular booster shot may be required.
“We just don’t know how this virus is going to travel from being a pandemic all the way to potentially an endemic virus we have to get used to living with,” Afeyan told host Maria Bartiromo.
“If that’s where it ends up, then it may well need an annual booster, potentially varying on a year-to-year or every few years’ basis as the virus varies, similarly to what we do with the flu vaccine. And so I think if we end up there, there will be a continuous need for boosting.”
He added that booster shots would help give a person antibodies to serve as the “first line of defense in our body to either preventing or counteracting the virus getting into the body.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week authorized COVID-19 booster doses of the Moderna vaccine, as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The agency furthermore said that people can take a different vaccine brand than the ones they’d taken originally.
Moderna on Monday asserted that a low dose of its vaccine against COVID-19 is safe for children aged 6–11. It joins Pfizer in developing a vaccine for the young age group. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5–11 was backed by an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday.
Both the mRNA-based Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been linked to rare cases of heart inflammation—myocarditis or pericarditis—mostly in young men.
Vaccine manufacturers are immune from liability for any adverse reactions unless there’s “willful misconduct” involved. Vaccine providers are required to report any serious adverse effects or vaccination administration errors to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The federal government has a countermeasures program that can compensate eligible persons who suffer serious injury from approved vaccines. But the burden of proof has proven a challenging process.
“[A]lthough the benefits of primary COVID-19 vaccination clearly outweigh the risks, there could be risks if boosters are widely introduced too soon, or too frequently, especially with vaccines that can have immune-mediated side-effects … If unnecessary boosting causes significant adverse reactions, there could be implications for vaccine acceptance that go beyond COVID-19 vaccines. Thus, widespread boosting should be undertaken only if there is clear evidence that it is appropriate,” the two officials, Dr. Marion Gruber, the head of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and her deputy, Dr. Philip Krause, wrote.
The two announced in late August they will be leaving the FDA in October and November.