The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

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A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes are prepared at a pop-up vaccine clinic in Staten Island, New York, on April 16.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes are prepared at a pop-up vaccine clinic in Staten Island, New York, on April 16. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Burton said it is good news that people who have been vaccinated and boosted with Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine are protected against the Omicron strain of the virus, but that it is something to keep monitoring.

On Wednesday, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that Moderna Covid-19 shots remain durable against the Omicron variant, but that antibody protection wanes and was six times lower six months after getting boosted. 

“The data that was produced last night in New England Journal of Medicine shows that if you get vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine and then you get boosted, you get a nice, good level of protection with antibodies against the original Covid virus strain, and also against the Omicron strain,” Burton said on CNN’s “New Day” when asked about waning antibody protection after six months.
“But, what we see by six months is that those levels begin to fall. And if you project that out and you make the conclusion that they will continue to fall, we know that probably by the autumn of this coming year, in 2022, that those levels will be down to an area where people may not have protection,” he continued.

“I think it’s good news now, people who have been vaccinated and boosted are protected, but we have to keep watching it,” Burton said. 

Burton said that he believes the end of the Omicron wave is in sight, but those who are unvaccinated are still at risk. 

“Vaccination and boosting almost obliterates that risk, but 40% of this country are still not fully vaccinated and certainly not boosted,” he said.

Omicron was a “curveball,” Burton said.

“It exploded around the world, there’s now a subvariant of that, cases of hospitalization in this country are perhaps the highest we’ve ever seen, deaths of three and a half thousand people a day. So, to protect against that, I think you need the maximum level of protection, and you need that for durability,” he added.  

Moderna announced yesterday that it is moving forward into a Phase 2 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine booster shot that is specific to the Omicron variant.

“Remember, it’s just two months from when we all heard about Omicron, we’re now starting this trial, it’s important,” he said. “It will probably take about two months to really get the data from it, and so by the middle of the year, we should be in a position to be going into full-blown manufacturing and preparation to supply people.” 



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