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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Moderna To Begin Studying COVID-19 Booster Shots For Variants

Moderna said that they begin clinical trials of Covid booster shots for a variant from South Africa. They have shipped to the NIH doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine designed to provide better protection against the variant from South Africa. They have previously reported that their original vaccine is less effective against the B1351 variant. Moderna has manufactured its original two-dose vaccine already approved for use in Canada, which appears to provide protection against the B117 variants first detected in the UK as well as the B1351 variant. Research of Moderna suggests that it may be less effective against the latter.

Moderna To Begin Studying COVID-19 Booster Shots For Variants

The drugmakers say that it will study the B1351 variant-specific vaccine both as a potential booster to the original Covid-19 vaccine and as a standalone for people who have not yet received a vaccine at all. On Wednesday, Moderna has shipped the doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine designed to provide better protection against the highly contagious coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa to the National Institutes of Health. Moderna is calling this vaccine mRNA-1273.351 and it is ready to be tested in an early-stage clinical trial to determine if it can be used as a booster shot against the South African strain, also known as B.1.351. This change to address variants has to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.   

Moderna To Begin Studying COVID-19 Booster Shots For Variants

“Out of an abundance of caution”: Moderna says

In a news release, Moderna says that it is not clear whether this reduced antibody level is sufficient to protect people against symptomatic or serious cases of Covid-19 from this new variant. “That’s why out of an abundance of caution”, the company added. They have started pursuing two possible strategies against the variant giving people a booster dose of the original vaccine to increase antibody levels and developing two variant-specific vaccines, which could be given instead of the original one. 

CEO of Moderna, Stephane Bancel said that “As we seek to defeat COVID-19, we must be vigilant and proactive as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge. We are moving quickly to test updates to the vaccines that address emerging variants of the virus in the clinic. The lower doses hopefully will work for the booster allowing the company to stretch its limited vaccine supply. 

Last month, Moderna reported that its vaccine was essentially as effective against the B117 variant as it was to prior variants. They also found that there was a reduction in its neutralizing ability against the B1351 variant. The new variant B1351 has been detected in at least 40 countries and the B117 is first detected in the UK. Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor has pushed Americans to get vaccinated as quickly as possible before potentially new and even more dangerous variants of the virus emerge.   

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