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A box of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo: Algi Febri Sugita/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Moderna vaccine's efficacy declines a year after it's administered, compared to protection seen in recently inoculated individuals, the vaccine maker announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: Moderna made its case for supporting booster shots, citing clinical trial data that demonstrate breakthrough infections are less common among participants approximately eight months after receiving the first dose compared to approximately 13 months.

  • Moderna's phase 3 clinical trial looked at breakthrough cases from July to August 2021.
  • The study documented 162 breakthrough cases in the participant group vaccinated over a year ago, while only 88 occurred in the group vaccinated during the early part of this year.

The big picture: The Biden administration is hoping to offer booster shots eight months after a second dose beginning this month.

Why it matters: Booster shots have become a source of controversy. Vaccine makers such as Pfizer are in support of making them widely available while some medical ethicists and scientists are skeptical, per Axios' Bob Herman.

  • “The increased risk of breakthrough infections in [phase 3] study participants who were vaccinated last year compared to more recently illustrates the impact of waning immunity and supports the need for a booster to maintain high levels of protection," said Moderna's CEO Stéphane Bancel.
  • In a paper written in The Lancet, scientists — including two FDA vaccine leaders — wrote that "current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations than if used as boosters in vaccinated populations."

Go deeper

Dec 5, 2021 - Health

CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise"

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday said that the number of Omicron coronavirus cases in the United States is "likely to rise."

Why it matters: The newly discovered variant has already been detected in at least 15 states, fueling concerns about the strain's ability to drive up a new wave of infections.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.