The president of vaccine manufacturer Moderna has said the fight against Covid-19 could last for a number of years because of mutations in the virus.
The virus will continue mutating and creating new strains for some time according to Dr Stephen Hoge, despite the arrival of vaccines in many countries throughout the world.
The Moderna chief also expressed his hope that their approved injection would protect the British and South African Covid strains of the virus.
“The virus is going to evolve as long as it’s infecting,” Dr Hoge told a conference call reported on by CNN.
“The key thing we need to do is to stop it from infecting. We need to break that transmission and, secondly, stop those infections from lasting a very long time.
“I think as we look at the efficacy of any of these vaccines, we should hope and assume that they’re going to work across them, but we need to prove that case, time and time again. Now, usually, probably just with measuring the vaccine’s ability to provide neutralizing antibodies in the blood, but in some cases over time we may need to go look at whether or not we’re actually protecting in the real world against some of these new strains.”
Dr. Hoge said the battle to control Covid-19 might continue for “the next couple of years”, and that the virus would continue mutating in the meantime.
“Until we’ve got this thing sort of fully suppressed and in control, and people are broadly vaccinated or seropositive and protected against it, it’s going to be an ongoing battle for the next couple of years,” he claimed.
“The virus isn’t going to stand still. It’s important that we remain vigilant and develop potential tools and countermeasures that would allow us to continue to beat back the pandemic.”
Moderna recently announced its vaccine produced the same antibody response against the Covid variant found in the UK compared to the typical strain of the virus, but only managed a reduced response against the South African variant.
The pharmaceutical giant has pledged to produce a booster injection to tackle the South African variant if needed, with the current vaccine reportedly offering a year of immunity against Covid-19.
Pfizer and BioNTech have not announced whether their vaccine protects against the South African strain of the virus, but did confirm that it provides protection against the British variant.