The CEO of Moderna claims that, despite what the CDC says, young and healthy individuals may not need a COVID booster shot going into the future.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending booster shots for everyone above age five, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel says that it’s best to think of the boosters as annual flu shots.
“I think it’s going to be like the flu,” Bancel told investors Monday, as reported by the Daily Mail. “If you’re a 25-year-old, do you need an annual booster every year if you’re healthy?
“You might want to… but I think it’s going to be similar to flu, where it’s going to be people at high-risk, people above 50 years of age, people with comorbidities, people with cancer and other conditions, people with transplants,” he said.
Bancel isn’t the first voice to go against the CDC’s guidance. Increasing numbers of people, even some who are pro-vaccine, have questioned why young, healthy people and small children need regular booster shots with very little risk of suffering severe illness.
Supporters of the boosters have long claimed that children should be fully vaccinated in order to prevent transmission to more vulnerable adults. However, last week, a Pfizer executive acknowledged to European lawmakers that the company’s vaccine was never tested for transmission prevention.
In addition, the second dose of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots have caused young men and adolescent boys to face an elevated risk of heart inflammation known as myocarditis, but the CDC claims that the same group faces an even higher risk of myocarditis from COVID itself.
Regardless, the CDC is sticking to its guns, recommending on Wednesday new Omicron boosters for children as young as five. Children ages 5 to 11 are eligible for Pfizer’s booster, and kids ages 6-17 are eligible for Moderna’s. Pfizer’s new boosters were cleared for people ages 12 and up in September, while Moderna’s were authorized for adults ages 18 and older.
The new “bivalent” boosters are meant to provide protection against the Omicron B.A. 4 and 5 variants, as well as the original strain of coronavirus. The Biden administration is urging Americans to get their updated booster at the same time as their flu shot.
“We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible,” Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccine division, said last week.
The autumn booster shot campaign has started slowly. Just 5% of the eligible population has received their boosters with only about 15 million doses administered to date, according to CDC data.
“People are now tuned out, trying to forget it and move on with their lives,” Dr. Thomas Russo, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, told SELF. “They don’t want to hear about COVID anymore.”
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