A new bivalent booster vaccine from Moderna promises to be a ‘turning point’ in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as cases continue to rise in the U.S. and abroad.
The new booster vaccine dose, announced Wednesday by the pharmaceutical and biotech company, targets the original COVID-19 variant and the new Omicron subvariants currently dominating cases in the U.S. The Omicron strains cause high numbers of daily cases in the U.S. but lower numbers of deaths and hospitalizations.
“We are submitting our preliminary data and analysis to regulators with the hope that the Omicron-containing bivalent booster will be available in the late summer,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of June 6, the number of daily cases nationwide averages around 108,891. The New York Times, however, reported the daily average number of cases is 112,771, as of June 7.
Both are higher than April’s average caseload, which by the end of the month was between 56,247 and 57,342. Cases began jumping up across the country back in May, which ended with a 7-day average caseload between 98,688 and 103,833.
Experts also warn that cases will rise dramatically over the fall and winter 2022 seasons. However, experts are also hesitant about whether an additional booster vaccine campaign is prudent.
In the U.S., fewer people are getting vaccinated and boosted over time. The addition of younger people into the vaccination campaign did not dramatically raise the percentage of people getting vaccinated.
“We do have a problem with vaccine uptake that is very serious in the United States,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told CNN.
In the U.S., 48.7% of those over age 12 qualify as fully vaccinated with an additional booster dose. In the U.K., 69.6% of people over 12 qualify as fully vaccinated and are boosted, and 55.5% meet that criteria in Canada.
There are no shortages of vaccines, many of which went to waste, according to recent reports. Still, Moderna still sees the benefits of an additional booster campaign.
“It’s an important announcement,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Burton told ABC News. “And I think it has the potential to be a real turning point in this latter part second half of the pandemic.”
Modern’s updated booster vaccine not only targets the more common COVID strains. The company says data also shows an increase in antibody levels for all known variants of concern. However, the data is not yet available for peer review from other scientists in the field.