Covid: “We must vaccinate young children”, defends the boss of Moderna

Posted on Oct 27, 2021 8:12 AMUpdated Oct 27, 2021, 9:31 AM

On the front of the fight against Covid-19, the next steps are being prepared now. Recall campaign, vaccination of children, but also a new generation of vaccine… In an interview with “Parisien”, Stéphane Bancel, pioneer of messenger RNA and head of biotech Moderna, outlines his future projects.

“We know that antibodies decrease over time,” he says straight away. Especially since the American company’s vaccine was designed against the original strain of Covid, and not the Delta variant, which is more contagious. The injection of a booster dose “is therefore essential to protect yourself from the virus in the fall”.

In Europe, these first booster doses could be injected quickly. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday approved the administration of a 3rd dose of the anti-Covid vaccine from the Moderna laboratory to people aged 18 and over.

Immunization of young children

In terms of vaccination, the emergence of the Delta variant also makes it necessary to protect children. “If we look at what happened in the United States where there were many more cases of Delta than in France, almost 20% of Americans hospitalized were children”, warns the one that the American press calls the “French Jeff Bezos”. “We see a lot more serious forms at this age. This was not the case last year, ”he adds.

Unvaccinated, they are also more likely to transmit the virus to the elderly who may therefore end up in the hospital. “The benefit / risk ratio for minors and society is clearly positive”, assures Stéphane Bancel, for whom “young children must be vaccinated”.

Moderna also announced positive results for its vaccine against Covid-19 in children aged 6 to 11 on Monday. It plans to submit them to regulators around the world “in the short term” for clearance.

Three new vaccines in development

The emergence of a new variant is also closely scrutinized by American biotech. Clinical trials are currently being carried out on three new vaccines developed respectively against the Delta and Beta variants, and a combination of the two.

“Scientists think that the most probable is that the Delta evolves by adding Beta mutations”, details the CEO. “We therefore risk having a more contagious and deadly virus in the future. To counter this, three specific reminders should therefore be available in winter 2022 to choose “which one will be used depending on the strains circulating at that time”.

Biotech is also working on a “two-in-one vaccine” against influenza and Covid. It “should be marketed by 2023” and would be protected against the two viruses.

Return to normal life in the summer of 2022?

For Stéphane Bancel, an annual injection “will be necessary for those over 50 and every two to three years for the youngest”. These reminders should make it possible to return to a normal life “from the summer of 2022”.

The CEO of Moderna also wishes to reassure, while several cases of myocarditis have been reported after the administration of the group’s vaccine. “Among young people, there are only a few cases per million vaccinated,” he says. “The benefit of vaccination is much higher. “

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