Moderna Says Its Vaccine Should Protect Against COVID for at Least a Year
As the vaccination effort slowly rolls out in the U.S., people are wondering how long they will be protected — and whether additional boosters will be necessary
The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine went into arms in the U.S. in mid-December, sparking hope that the vaccine, which is around 95% effective against the virus, will finally bring an end to the pandemic. But one of the remaining questions is how long the protection will last.
On Monday, Moderna, one of the two pharmaceutical companies that produced an approved COVID-19 vaccine, shared the positive news that their formulation should provide at least a year's protection against the virus.
"Our expectation is that the vaccination should last you at least a year," Moderna's chief medical officer Tal Zaks said at a conference, CNN reported.
Because the vaccine is so new — researchers only received the genome sequences of the virus to produce the vaccine on January 10, 2020 — they haven't yet been able to track how long its protection lasts in the thousands of people who enrolled in Moderna's clinical trials. But Zaks said that they believe it will last at least a year.
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Moderna's vaccine is currently delivered in two doses — the first one teaches the body to build up an immune response to COVID-19, and the second, coming four weeks later, is a booster to make sure that the body can provide a strong response to the virus. Zaks also said that Moderna will test people to see if a third dose of the vaccine months after their first two doses will provide added immunity.
"We'll have to boost people to see how well the boost works," Zaks said. "We think there is an opportunity to boost, especially the ones at high risk, should you need it."
Pfizer, the company that created the other approved vaccine, has not yet shared data about how long its protection will last. But both companies' vaccines are made of a similar formulation, and a member of the Food and Drug Administration panel that reviewed the two vaccines said that it is a "reasonable bet" that the Pfizer vaccine would provide around six months to a year of protection.
The current vaccine hurdle, though, is getting Americans vaccinated. Rollout has been slow — as of Friday, about 10.6 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control, well behind the targeted goal from last year of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of 2020.
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