Moderna CEO says world will have to live with Covid ‘forever’

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Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna

Steven Ferdman | Getty Images

The CEO of vaccine maker Covid-19 Moderna warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus that has crippled global economies and overwhelmed hospitals will be here “forever”.

Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at any time, although likely at lower levels than it is now.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel appeared to agree on Wednesday that Covid-19 would become endemic, saying “SARS-CoV-2 will not go away”.

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“We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever,” he said at a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Healthcare conference.

Health officials will need to constantly monitor for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them, he said. Ohio researchers said on Wednesday they had discovered two new variants likely to originate in the United States, and one of them quickly became the dominant strain in Columbus, Ohio, over a period of three weeks in late December and early January.

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Pfizer researchers said its vaccine developed with BioNTech appeared to be effective against a key mutation in the British strain as well as a variant found in South Africa.

Moderna’s vaccine has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in Americans 18 years of age and older. More studies still need to be done in children, whose immune systems may respond differently to vaccines than that of adults.

US officials are rushing to hand out doses of both vaccines, but it will likely be months before the US can vaccinate enough people to gain herd immunity, meaning the virus won’t have enough new ones. hosts to spread. Still, Bancel said on Wednesday that he expects the United States to be one of the first major countries to achieve “sufficient protection” against the virus.

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There are already four endemic coronaviruses in the world, but they are not as contagious or deadly as Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization.

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