It has been 18 months since much of the world shut down in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, and sometimes it seems like there is no end in sight to the ups and downs of the pandemic.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Reuters in an interview published on Thursday that he thinks the pandemic is likely to end in about a year because of the speed of vaccine production and the contagiousness of the delta variant.
“If you look at the industry-wide expansion of production capacities over the past six months, enough doses should be available by the middle of next year so that everyone on this earth can be vaccinated. Boosters should also be possible to the extent required,” he told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, according to Reuters.
“Those who do not get vaccinated will immunize themselves naturally, because the Delta variant is so contagious. In this way we will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu. You can either get vaccinated and have a good winter. Or you don’t do it and risk getting sick and possibly even ending up in hospital,” he said.
Booster shots coming
Bancel’s comments come as 55% of the American population and 43% of the world population have now been fully vaccinated against the virus.
According to official counts, more than 230 million worldwide and 43 million in the U.S. have also gotten the virus, although experts have said the true number is likely a lot higher than that.
Bancel said that people vaccinated last fall need a booster shot now. The FDA just approved boosters for the elderly and those in high risk groups, and may approve them for the general public soon. The booster shot dose is just half of the original dose for Moderna, giving the brand twice as many doses to administer.
Moderna is also testing delta-optimized vaccines in order to combat the higher degree of transmission with that variant, Bancel said.
Are vaccine side effects being reported?
Even with the newly announced vaccine mandate on the horizon as soon as OSHA can make up guidelines for it, though, there is a small but vocal group of people who continue to be vaccine hesitant and unsure about the side effects of the vaccine.
A new video by whistleblower group Project Veritas this week appeared to show that at least some hospital employees aren’t reporting adverse effects to the vaccine.
Taken in one government hospital facility, the video showed a doctor saying that “dozens” of people were coming in with severe side effects from the vaccine and that employees were not reported the events because of the time it took to fill out the paperwork and because of pressure to declare the vaccines “safe.”
MRNA vaccines have been shown to cause rare cases of myocarditis in young males a few days after the second dose, which have typically reversed themselves within six months.