Jan 17 (Reuters) - Moderna Inc's vaccine candidate
against the Omicron coronavirus variant will enter clinical
development in the next few weeks and the company expects to be
able to share data with regulators around March, CEO Stephane
Bancel said on Monday.
"The vaccine is being finished ... it should be in the
clinic in coming weeks. We are hoping in the March timeframe to
be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out next
steps," Bancel said at the World Economic Forum's virtual Davos
Moderna is also developing a single vaccine that combines a
booster dose against COVID-19 with its experimental flu shot. (https://reut.rs/3FAeyya)
Bancel said the best case scenario was the combined
COVID/flu vaccine would be available by the fall of 2023, at
least in some countries.
"Our goal is to be able to have a single annual booster so
that we don't have compliance issues where people don't want to
get two to three shots a winter."
Many countries are already offering a third dose of a
COVID-19 vaccine to their citizens, especially to older
individuals and those who are immunocompromised, while Israel
has started offering its citizens a fourth dose.
Earlier in January, Moderna's CEO said people may need a
fourth shot in the fall of 2022 as the efficacy of boosters
against COVID-19 was likely to decline over the next few months.
However, booster programs have met with skepticism from some
disease experts over whether, and how widely, additional doses
should become available, including the European Union's drug
regulator, which has expressed doubts about the need for a
fourth booster dose.
Speaking at the same event, top U.S. infectious disease
expert Anthony Fauci said there was no evidence that repeat
booster doses would overwhelm the immune system.
"Giving boosters at different times, there is really no
evidence that's going to hinder (immune response)."
Fauci said the goal should be to have a booster that induces
a response against multiple potential variants.
(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru
Editing by Mark Potter)