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New study launched to investigate Moderna booster

The study team will investigate the effectiveness of the Moderna Covid-19 booster against new variants. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

The study team will investigate the effectiveness of the Moderna Covid-19 booster against new variants. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 2, 2022

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Cape Town - The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has launched a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the Moderna as a Covid-19 booster.

Yesterday, the Sisonke study team led by the SAMRC, launched the SHERPA Study which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Moderna booster against Covid-19 infections and severe Covid-19 disease among healthcare workers.

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SHERPA stands for Sisonke Heterologous mRNA-1273 boost after prime with Ad26.COV2.S.

The study is sponsored by the SAMRC and co-funded by Moderna, and hopes to enrol up to 15 000 participants who received either a single or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S) as part of the Sisonke study for healthcare workers.

The SHERPA study was piloted between May 23-27 with 30 participants already enrolled.

SAMRC said this would allow the study team to investigate the effectiveness of the Moderna Covid-19 booster against new variants in South Africa, and to provide additional data to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) for potential licensing.

Co-principal Investigator, Dr Nigel Garrett said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet and many people have not taken up a booster dose. The SHERPA study will provide crucial data on heterologous boosting and may help to licence another effective vaccine in South Africa.”

Dr Garrett said they hope to present preliminary data by October 2022.

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“All Sisonke study participants (health care workers) already received at least one or two Johnson and Johnson dose/s as part of the larger study. It is most appropriate to offer these participants a Moderna booster now.

“The primary Moderna vaccination schedule is also being studied in South Africa as part of the COVPN3008 Ubuntu trial. Both studies are providing safety and effectiveness data to Sahpra, the regulator. This will be important for licensing the Moderna product in South Africa,” he said.

Sahpra spokesperson, Yuven Gounden said Sahpra had not received an application from Moderna at this stage and therefore could not provide comment on this.

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The Sisonke Programme is a collaboration between the National Health Department, SAMRC, Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, Caprisa, and Johnson & Johnson. The Sisonke programme allowed the government to roll-out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to healthcare workers using the research programme.

The Sisonke programme differs from that of a clinical trial, which facilitated the use of the vaccine while the licensing process took place.

The Sisonke programme resulted in nearly 500 000 healthcare workers vaccinated against Covid-19 with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Meanwhile, the Western Cape recorded 10 304 active cases of Covid-19, 713 327 confirmed cases, with 680 910 recoveries, as at 1pm Thursday on the Covid-19 dashboard.

To date, 22 113 people have succumbed due to Covid-19 related illness.

The province added 595 new Covid-19 cases since the previous update. The province also reported 19 425 Covid-19 reinfections.

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