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HomeUK NewsCOVID-19: Fourth booster shot could be needed by autumn, Moderna boss says

COVID-19: Fourth booster shot could be needed by autumn, Moderna boss says

People may need another shot against COVID-19 this autumn as the efficacy of boosters is likely to decline over the next few months, the chief executive of Moderna has said.

Speaking at a healthcare conference organised by Goldman Sachs, Stephane Bancel said the US-based company is working on a vaccine candidate tailored towards the Omicron variant of COVID.

However, he said the new vaccine is unlikely to be available in the next two months.

“I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Mr Bancel said.

His comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett cited a study earlier this week that a fourth dose against the virus boosts antibodies five-fold, a week after the shot is administered.

Mr Bennett has since approved granting a fourth dose of a COVID shot to Israelis over the age of 60 and medical workers.

Elsewhere, Chile is set to become the first Latin American country in the world to offer a fourth COVID shot next week to immunocompromised citizens, the government announced yesterday.

“Starting next Monday, 10 January, we are going to start a new mass vaccination process with a fourth dose or a second booster dose,” said President Sebastián Piñera at a press conference.

What about the UK?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during PMQs this week that the JCVI is continuing to keep fourth jabs “under continuous review”.

He also announced that pre-departure COVID tests for travellers arriving in England will be scrapped in a major boost for the beleaguered travel industry.

Mr Johnson said it was right to stick with England’s Plan B measures despite rapidly rising hospital admissions, surging case rates and staff shortages hitting the NHS.

He informed MPs that his cabinet had agreed to keep the existing restrictions, but would ease travel testing rules.

Vaccine reduces hospitalisation

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson also announced this week that a new study showed its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine protects against breakthrough infections and hospitalisations for up to six months.

The study, sponsored by the vaccine developer, was conducted between 1 January and 7 September last year, before the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron strain. It is also yet to be peer-reviewed.

According to the World Health Organisation, Omicron appears to produce less severe disease than the Delta strain, but should not be categorised as “mild”.

WHO lead on clinical management, Janet Diaz, claimed early studies showed there was a reduced risk of hospitalisation from Omicron, first identified in South Africa, compared with Delta.

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