As noted yesterday, Moderna has a new reformulated booster that basically stops the Delta variant in its tracks. If we could get this booster out into people’s arms now, vaccinated and not yet vaccinated, we could crush this Delta wave fast.
But we won’t be able to get this booster out into people’s arms fast. It’s in a phase-two trial, which means it still has to get through phase three. The phase-three trial for Moderna’s first vaccine began July 27, 2020, and cut off data collection on November 25, 2020; the company announced the results of the phase-three trial on December 31, 2020. That’s about four months of testing.
Assuming the third phase of testing goes well, Moderna will to submit an emergency-use authorization to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna applied for an EUA for its original COVID-19 vaccine on November 30, and the FDA granted it on December 18. That’s about three weeks.
Four months and three weeks from now, the Delta variant wave will probably have long since come and gone. There’s at least a little evidence that the Delta wave already peaked in some southern states. Four months and three weeks from now, we’ll be more concerned about the Lambda variant or some other new variation of COVID-19.
The Delta variant was just 3 percent of new cases in the U.S. in late May . . . and now it’s 83 percent of all new cases. But as quickly as it arrived, this variant may quickly leave, too; over in the U.K., cases crashed more than 50 percent from the peak in just two weeks.
Our medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies have amazing abilities to come up with vaccines that can tackle both the original version and mutated versions of COVID-19. But in addition to vaccine hesitancy, we have the problem of getting the updated versions of the vaccines out to people while they’re still useful. No one wants to cut corners on the process of ensuring that a vaccine is safe. But this process is moving far too slow to be effective.
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