Moderna co-founder sees potential for annual COVID-19 boosters

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With governments around the world debating whether to authorize COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, Moderna Inc. co-founder Noubar Afeyan envisions a time when the shot could become routine.

“Public health officials are going to have to decide if everybody should get a booster shot, he said in an interview on “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations that’s airing on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.

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“My guess is that given enough time, we may well end up in a situation where we have, let’s say at a minimum, yearly vaccinations, just like the flu, said Afeyan, who also serves as chairman.

Afeyan said the company is hoping in the next couple of months for full US approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently authorized for emergency use. The company is testing a half-dose booster that “seems to be extremely effective, he said.

World leaders clamored for access to the vaccine before approval, Afeyan recalled. “I did get calls that I never thought I would ever get before from many, many country leaders, he said. “Nobody could do anything. Legally, the entire vaccine supply was a possession of the US government."

Afeyan’s Flagship Pioneering is investing in several technologies he said could help the world prepare for the next pandemic.

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“We have approaches using machine learning, AI systems, artificial intelligence systems, that are literally modeling where this virus can go, based on where it’s been already, and anticipating what variants we will see, he said. “One of the outcomes of this pandemic will be capabilities that we didn’t have before but now we know we need.”

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