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Moderna just made this big announcement about its coronavirus vaccine and mutations

Updated Feb 25th, 2021 4:20PM EST
Coronavirus vaccine
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  • More than 66 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the US so far since vaccinations began in December.
  • Moderna’s CEO said the company is working on multiple new COVID booster shot candidates that are an attempt to offer better protection against coronavirus variants.
  • More than 28.3 million coronavirus infections have been reported in the US since the start of the pandemic.

Since the coronavirus vaccine campaign began in the US in December, some 66.5 million vaccine doses have been administered so far — with the pace up to an average of 1.3 million doses per day over the last week. That’s according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, which provides a snapshot of the US effort to get the pandemic under control.

White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday pleaded during an NBC News interview for people to get vaccinated as soon as they can — and that the best vaccine candidate for them is, in fact, whichever one is available the quickest. Currently, coronavirus vaccines that have received emergency use authorization in the US include those from Pfizer and Moderna, with regulators possibly green-lighting a COVID vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson as soon as Friday. According to White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients, Johnson & Johnson will have 3 million to 4 million doses ready for distribution next week, which comes at the same time as Moderna is preparing to test a new COVID vaccine shot to tackle the virus variants that have started to worry public health experts.

All of which is to say, a robust fight against the coronavirus in the US is ongoing and — as Moderna’s news shows — ready to enter a new stage, in a race against time to keep the virus from outmaneuvering the efforts of the medical community to stop it.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told Insider this week that the company has shipped a new version of its COVID vaccine to the National Institutes of Health, which is about to start testing whether it provides better protection against the emerging South Africa coronavirus variant. Coincidentally, this comes one year after Moderna first submitted its initial coronavirus vaccine candidate, and a clinical trial of the new booster dose will start “very soon,” according to Bancel.

Additionally, Moderna is also developing a few other vaccine booster shot candidates in an effort to find the best targeted treatment against the new COVID variant. “Moderna is very committed,” Bancel said in the interview. “I tell every head of state: We will chase every variant of concern, period. If we have to chase 10 in the next 10 months, we’ll chase 10. We have the capability. We have infrastructure.”

That’s good news, because the toll of the pandemic is only continuing to grow. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 28.3 million coronavirus infections have now been reported in the US. Additionally, more than 506,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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