Sep. 24, 2021 -- The COVID-19 pandemic could effectively be over in a year because enough vaccine will be manufactured and distributed by that time, Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper.
"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,” Bancel told Neue Zurcher Zeitung, according to Reuters. “Boosters should also be possible to the extent required."
Asked if that meant a return to normal in the second half of next year, he said: "As of today, in a year, I assume."
Bancel said people who don’t get vaccinated could develop natural immunity to COVID-19.
"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 might contain less vaccine than the first shots, he said, because "with half the dose, we would have 3 billion doses available worldwide for the coming year instead of just 2 billion."
Bancel said Moderna is developing “Delta-optimized variants” in clinical trials that will likely be used for boosters in 2022.
The Washington Post and other media outlets said Bancel’s prediction will not come true unless more vaccine is extended to poor nations. About 80% of the population in the world’s wealthy nations have received at least one dose of vaccine, compared to 20% of people in low-income nations, The Post said.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres this week criticized rich countries for hoarding and sometimes wasting vaccines instead of sharing more readily with poor countries, The Post said.