Moderna CEO says its mRNA vaccine could potentially offer protection for a ‘couple of years'

The duration of protection that Covid-19 shots offer remains an important and lingering question for scientists and regulators.

Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, currently in Phase 3 trials in multiple countries, could potentially offer months of protection from serious coronavirus infection, according to the company's CEO Stephane Bancel. Speaking at a virtual event by financial service group Oddo BHF, Bancel said that the once-believed "nightmare" scenario that the vaccine wouldn't work is no longer true. "We believe there will be protection, potentially for a couple of years," he said. The "antibody decay generated by the vaccine in humans goes down very slowly," he said, according to a Reuters report.

With most Covid-19 vaccine trials being fast-tracked, a large part of the post-trial observation will be carried out over the next few years, as and when the vaccine is widely-distributed to the public. This is instead of the traditional multi-year pharmacovigilance study carried out for drug and vaccine candidates before they are marketed.

The protection duration of Covid-19 shots is a lingering question for scientists and regulators. The occasional study hints at survivors of Covid-19 having lasting immunity to the virus, but there is still no unanimous proof as to exactly how long for.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine technnology could revolutionise future treatments for infectious diseases and pandemics. Image: AP

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine technnology could revolutionise future treatments for infectious diseases and pandemics. Image: AP

The interim results of safety and primary efficacy of the vaccine's Phase 3 human trials were recently published in The New England Journal of MedicineEvidence from clinical trials shows the vaccine was 94 percent effective at preventing lab-confirmed Covid-19 in people who were given two doses and no history of the infection. In mid-December 2020, the FDA approved the emergency use of the Moderna vaccine in people 18 years of age and older. Some 18 million doses have been supplied to the US government already – a fraction of the 800 million doses the country has secured for its citizens from multiple vaccine makers.

The Moderna vaccine has also been authorized by Canadian health authorities to immunize citizens 18 years of age and older.

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