Moderna CEO: Countries, not manufacturers, are responsible for WHO moratorium on boosters

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read

Moderna (MRNA) has maxed out on its manufacturing capacity for 2021 and has shifted its focus to 2022 and 2023 advanced purchasing orders for its COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Thursday.

The company reported $2.8 billion in vaccine revenue for the second quarter and anticipates pricing of doses will fall and impact revenue as more low- and middle-income countries become the dominant purchasers, according to officials on an earnings call.

In addition, Moderna expects the global pandemic to become the COVID-19 endemic (regularly found among particular people or in a certain area) by then and is in discussions with countries about their vaccine needs.

But the global need for 2021 remains a concern for the World Health Organization (WHO), which called for a moratorium on the manufacture and dispersal of booster shots until September, as the gap in vaccination rates between wealthy and poor countries widens.

Despite that call, countries like Israel, Germany and France — all of which have purchased Moderna doses — said they will continue booster programs for the most vulnerable.  

The WHO called on "anyone with influence," including vaccine manufacturers, to help with the goal of vaccinating 10% of each country in the world by the end of September.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told Yahoo Finance in an interview Thursday that implementation is out of manufacturers' hands.

"We cannot do much as a manufacturer ... the vaccines are in their warehouse, we have a legal commitment to ship the current vaccine," Bancel said.

Bancel added that the shipments are not a differentiated booster vaccine vial. Once the doses are in those warehouses, it's up to the country to decide if the vaccines are used for first-time recipients or for booster shots, he said.

"It's really, I think, a discussion that needs to happen between the WHO and the countries. I don't see how the manufacturers can impact that," Bancel said.

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