Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel at JPMorgan Healthcare Conference Says Regarding Coronavirus: “World Will Have to Live with it Forever”

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Illustration, created by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Illustration, created by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 warned that the coronavirus is “not going away” and the world will have to live with it “forever.”

Bancel’s statement was heard while he was speaking at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference. Multiple new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been detected, with one from the United Kingdom being significantly more infectious. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said a new, separate variant had also been detected in Japan. He said health officials will always have to be on the lookout for new variants of COVID-19 in order for new vaccines to be produced and that “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away.” Moderna is an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that focuses on drug discovery, drug development, and vaccine technologies based exclusively on messenger RNA (mRNA). On December 18, 2020, mRNA-1273 was issued Emergency Use Authorization as the second COVID-19 vaccine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was issued as the first Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA on December 11, 2020.

Moderna officials on Tuesday said at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference that the vaccine is expected to provide immunity for at least one year. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said the Moderna will be looking into whether a third booster shot would extend the immunity offered by the vaccine. A third booster may be selected for people at especially high risk.

“We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever.”

— Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel

Multiple new variants have been detected, with one from the U.K. being significantly more infectious. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, January 11, 2021 said a new, separate variant had also been detected in Japan. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said of the new variants, “The more the virus spreads the higher the chance of new changes to the virus. Most notably, transmissibility of some variants of the virus appears to be increasing.”

Moderna’s two-dose vaccine was shown in vaccine trials to offer 94.1 percent immunity to the SARS-CoV-2. Among 28,207 participants, 14,134 received the vaccine and 14,073 received a placebo injection. The vaccine was 94.1% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease among these clinical trial participants with 11 cases of COVID-19 in the vaccine group and 185 cases in the placebo group.

Human Coronavirus Types

Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. Their names and classifications are subject to change according to discoveries in clinical medicine, genetics and medical/historical research of genetic forensics. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. In 2021, there are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Currently, the alphacoronarviruses and betacoronaviruses are the clinically significant coronaviruses in humans that involve seven types of coronaviruses that can infect people and make them sick. Among the betacoronaviruses are 3 lineages that are connected to human illnesses (Lineage A, B, and C). Betacoronavirus Lineage D are known to affect bats.

In 2018, these four lineages were reclassified as subgenera of Betacoronavirus, and renamed as Embecovirus (previous Lineage A), Sarbecovirus (previous Lineage B), Merbecovirus (previous Lineage C) and Nobecovirus (previous Lineage D). CARDINAL NEWS has seen instances where the previous lettering classification is still in use, and is of course present in the historical research literature.

The most common cause of the common cold is the infectious agent known as rhinovirus, which is the most common viral infectious agent in humans and is unrelated to the viruses that cause coronavirus infections. Three species of rhinovirus (A, B, and C) include about 160 recognized types of human rhinovirus that differ according to their surface proteins (serotypes). Rhinoviruses belong to the genus Enterovirus in the family Picornaviridae. Enteroviruses, such as enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) which is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses, can also cause common cold symptoms. In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill, according to the CDC. Viruses, including EV-D68, likely play a role in causing AFM — Acute flaccid myelitis, the uncommon but serious neurological condition that occurs mostly in young children. More than 300 virus types of enterovirus have been characterized genetically by phylogenetic clustering.

The seven coronaviruses (listed by #) among the alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses that can infect people are …

(#1-4) the alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses that cause the common cold viruses and other respiratory illnesses or so-called common HCoVs: (#1) HCoV-229E (alphacoronavirus), (#2) HCoV-OC43 (betacoronavirus Lineage A), (#3) HCoV-NL63 (alphacoronavirus connected to common cold AND croup), (#4) HCoV-HKU1 (betacoronavirus Lineage A connected to acute respiratory distress syndrome and bilateral pneumonia);

(#5) severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (betacoronavirus Lineage B named SARS-CoV);

(#6), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV); and

(#7) the novel coronavirus COVID-19 (betacoronavirus Lineage B named 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2). 

Common human coronaviruses are the four so-called common HCoVs that generally cause mild upper-respiratory tract illness and contribute to 15%–30% of cases of common colds in human adults. Common HCoVs can progress to severe and life-threatening lower respiratory tract infections in infants, elderly people, or immunocompromised patients — including pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

229E (alpha coronavirus)
NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
OC43 (beta coronavirus)
HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

Other human coronaviruses
MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
SARS-CoV-2 (the novel beta coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19)

People around the world commonly get infected with human coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, according to the CDC.

Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick and become a new human coronavirus. Three recent examples of this are 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.

Among the coronavirus-related infections in humans, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 is currently the most contagious.


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See also …
JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, January 11 – 14, 2021 | Virtual

FDA | FDA Takes Additional Action in Fight Against COVID-19 By Issuing Emergency Use Authorization for Second COVID-19 Vaccine

FDA | Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

FDA | Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

WHO | WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 January 2021

International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses

Wong ACP, Li X, Lau SKP, Woo PCY. Global Epidemiology of Bat Coronaviruses. Viruses. 2019;11(2):174. Published 2019 Feb 20. doi:10.3390/v11020174

CDC | Enterovirus D68

COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation … see also …

White House, CDC, FEMA | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NIH National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Research

NCBI SARS-CoV-2 Resources (National Library of Medicine)

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