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Moderna official speaks on shot's efficacy, possible future COVID variants

Moderna official speaks on state of the pandemic
Posted at 5:07 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 17:07:04-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The omicron variant continues to spread across Indiana, while an increasing number of states have reported the presence of a new mutation, BA.2.

One expert says that despite the rapidly-changing situation, vaccines remain the most protective tool against the disease — and that now is not the time to grow complacent.

WRTV recently sat down with Moderna's Chief Medical Officer, Paul Burton, who spoke to the efficacy of the company's COVID shot and how the pandemic could develop in the near future.

"We continue to see a huge amount of independent data being published on the Moderna vaccine, and honestly it continues to look just exceptional. We see that around the world," Burton said.

MORE: Moderna begins testing omicron-specific vaccine

Burton said Moderna presented data to the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that showed antibodies provided by the company's vaccine begin to wane around the six-month mark, particularly against the omicron variant.

Below is a Q&A with Burton:

Q: What do you think is the long-term outlook for the necessity for vaccines related to COVID?

"It will need a yearly booster, and in fact, we are aiming to be able to produce a flu-Covid single shot combination vaccine, perhaps for 2023."

Q: How is Moderna preparing for other variants of COVID?

"We certainly continue to test our vaccine against these new variants. The beauty of the mRNA platform is that it can adapt very quickly. Just two months ago we heard about omicron, and here we are two months later testing that first dose in a person."

"It will probably be a couple of months until we really know how that new vaccine is working. We predict that it will be very effective."

Q: Is COVID having any impact on production?

“Our organization and our workforce is so dedicated. People work constantly throughout the holidays — 24 hours, 7 days a week. Things are going extremely well with production. We’ve really never been in a better position.”

MORE: Experts warn of questionable COVID-19 testing sites that could threaten your health, identity

Q: What do you say to those who are skeptical about vaccines?

“We have given 400 million doses of our mRNA 12-73 vaccine around the world. So we know it’s very safe and very effective.

“Have great confidence in the vaccine. Know it will protect you. You can get your life back to normal. You can begin to socialize. You’ll be safe.”

Q: How is Moderna handling omicron?

“We recognize particularly with Omicron it has so many mutations that it’s able to dodge out of the way of vaccines. That’s basically what it does. But the vaccine is still very very effective.

“The fall of 2022, as immunity really begins to perhaps wains, we will need this additional booster. That’s why we need to be prepared for it now and to keep Americans safe from that.”

Q: How do you feel about the length of this pandemic?

“Everyone is exhausted. We’re all desperate to get out of this pandemic. And get back to some kind of normal life. We’ve talked about it and there’s really only one way to do that. Take simple precautions, and then the second way is to get vaccinated and to get boosted."

“Now is not the time to give up, now is the time to double down, you know we can win, we can really prevail here, but we have to keep going at it, we have to do it together.

“Just a huge shoutout to those healthcare workers in Indiana, doctors, nurses, physicians, pharmacists… people to staff the clinics and do the testing.”