The chief executive of Moderna said Thursday he thinks the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could be over within a year as vaccine production ramps up and doses are delivered around the globe, even as many lower-income nations wait for inoculations.
The pharmaceutical company’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung he believed there would soon be enough vaccines to jab “everyone on this earth,” likening a future with the virus to that of a flu season.
“We will end up in a situation similar to that of the flu,” Bancel told the outlet, saying he predicted that future within the next 12 months. “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 continued: “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 added that those who choose not to get vaccinated will be immunized “naturally,” as they will likely get the highly transmissible delta strain of the virus.
The delta variant has wrought havoc around the globe, throwing America’s reopening plans into chaos and leading to dramatic surges in new infections despite a wide slate of safe, effective vaccines.
The Washington Post notes that about 80% of citizens in wealthier nations have already received their first doses of a vaccine. But in lower-income nations that figure falls to about 20%, a statistic that has troubled global health officials particularly as some countries have begun booster shot campaigns for vulnerable people.
The Food and Drug Administration this week approved a third jab for those inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Americans 65 and older, as well as those with high-risk conditions or in workplaces with greater exposure risk.
The head of the United Nations, which has long argued rich nations should wait until all countries are able to vaccinate large swaths of their populations, said the unequal distribution of vaccines globally was a worldwide “obscenity.”
“This is a moral indictment of the state of our world,” Secretary-General António Guterres told world leaders this week. “It is an obscenity. We passed the science test. But we are getting an F in Ethics.”