COVID-19 is here to stay, Moderna, Inc. chief executive Stephane Bancel says.

"We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever," he said. It is "not going away," Bancel said during a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Health Care Conference.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. It has been mutating since the first case in China was confirmed in December 2019. Three of the disease's mutations are behind current rises in the number of daily infections in the U.S. and Europe.

Bancel restated warnings made by the international medical community about the potential for the disease to become endemic worldwide.

In August, the World Health Organization said COVID will be with us until the end of time and will never be eradicated. The organization described the pandemic as "one big wave," and not a seasonal affliction.

The implication is the disease will strike every day or every year. Organization representative Dr. Margaret Harris said COVID didn't share the flu's tendency to follow seasons because this virus is behaving differently.

The organization said a vaccine, no matter how safe and effective, won't end the pandemic on its own. People worldwide must make permanent adjustments to their daily lives such as constant hand-washing and social distancing if we are to successfully control the disease.

Organization director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, said a safe and effective vaccine was vital. One of the three vaccines developed in the West and now inoculating millions in the U.S. and Europe is Moderna's treatment. It is administered in two 0.5 milliliter doses given by intramuscular injection four weeks apart.

This vaccine late last year showed 94% efficacy in preventing COVID in a phase three trial. Since then, the vaccine has received emergency-use authorization in the U.S. from the Food and Drug Administration.

It was authorized for use in Canada and received approval in the European Union Jan. 6. The vaccine received an emergency-use authorization from the UK Jan. 8.

The Moderna vaccine was developed in partnership with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.