Moderna wants to test Covid-19 booster shots one year after the first vaccination


One of the boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is prepared for shipment at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, USA, on December 20, 2020.

Paul Sancya | Reuters

Moderna plans to test a booster shot of its Covid-19 vaccine a year after the first two-dose immunization, as the duration of protection from the new vaccines is still unclear.

The biotech company plans to start the study in July. This emerges from a company presentation at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on Monday. According to an email shared by one of those people, employees at the clinical trial sites have already started contacting participants in previous trials.

“From what we’ve seen so far, we’re assuming the vaccination will take at least a year,” said Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, told investors and analysts at the conference. “To the extent that you need a booster shot, we make a data-based recommendation, and for that we need to pull the data.”

The first participants in Moderna’s human clinical trials received their recordings in mid-March. a second was given four weeks later. Since multiple doses of the vaccine were tested in previous studies, those with doses lower than the ultimately approved – 100 micrograms – would get their booster sooner, while those with 100 micrograms or higher would get their booster at the end of the year, according to an email to the Attendees.

The booster that is now planned is the same version of the vaccine that is on the market, but Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said it might be necessary to adapt the vaccine in the coming years to cover new variants.

“I think this is going to be a market like the flu,” he told CNBC. Moderna also recently started a seasonal flu vaccination program.

The booster study for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine will assess both safety and the immune response that an additional shot generates a year later, Bancel said at the conference.