File picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters
File picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

Moderna booster shot shown to work against dominant variant in SA

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published May 6, 2021

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Cape Town - Moderna's booster shot, or third dose, has shown to be effective against the strain of Covid-19 first identified in South Africa.

The biotechnology company released interim data on Wednesday from its Phase 2 study and found that a booster shot given to previously vaccinated individuals increased antibody responses against the virus.

In particular, the third shot achieved a higher neutralising antibody response against the B.1.351 variant, dominant in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil.

The variant-targeting booster was given six to eight months after the participants had been initially vaccinated. Moderna’s vaccine requires two doses administered four weeks apart.

South Africa has not yet secured any vaccines with Moderna.

The country has enough doses to vaccinate at least 45 million people with the 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 12 million from the Covax facility and 20 million from Pfizer.

Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel said the company remained committed to being proactive as the Covid-19 virus evolved.

“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that our booster strategy should be protective against these newly detected variants. The strong and rapid boost in titers to levels above primary vaccination also clearly demonstrates the ability of mRNA-1273 to induce immune memory,” she said.

“Our mRNA platform allows for rapid design of vaccine candidates that incorporate key virus mutations, potentially allowing for faster development of future alternative variant-matched vaccines should they be needed.”

The clinical trial, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, examined 40 participants. Thirty-seven of them showed a strong immune response against the original strain of the coronavirus before getting the booster shot.

Symptoms reported in the clinical trial included pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, nausea/vomiting, and fever.

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