Why Moderna Is Pushing For 4th Dose COVID-19 Vaccines

On Thursday, March 17, Moderna requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the fourth dose of their COVID-19 vaccine (per U.S. News & World Report). Serving as a second booster, the fourth dose comes on the heels of Pfizer's call for an additional booster shot for seniors 65 and older. NBC News reported on the story, which broke just two days prior to Moderna's appeal, citing that the additional booster shot is aimed towards seniors due to their high risk of serious illness and death.

According to a press release, approval of the fourth dose will give medical providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flexibility in establishing the most suitable use of a second booster shot, "including for those at higher risk of COVID-19 due to age or comorbidities" (via U.S. News & World Report).

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that people of all ages are at risk of COVID-19, but older people are particularly more susceptible because of physiological changes that naturally result from aging and hidden health problems.

Funding for vaccines are running out

During the same week that Pfizer and Moderna made their requests, The White House Office of Management and Budget revealed that funding for COVID-19 tests and vaccines is drying up. In addition to the risk of running out of vaccines, a letter from the Executive Office of the President to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nacy Pelosi, stated that a lack of funding will result in fewer tests being made, fewer treatments for people with a compromised immune system, and no more purchases of antibodies. 

NPR said the letter was sent as a result of Congress failing to add $22.5 billion to a broad government spending bill, which was signed into law by President Biden on Tuesday, March 15 sans any mention of COVID-19 funding. According to the Wall Street Journal, funds have yet to be secured.

Per NBC News, a lack of funding could be "catastrophic" for people without health insurance. Though Newsweek reported a record number of 14.5 million people signed up for Obamacare, subsidies that made the Affordable Care Act possible may also run out this year.