Moderna says Covid-19 vaccine appears to be effective against new variants
MODERNA Inc said on Monday its Covid-19 vaccine produced virus-neutralizing antibodies in laboratory tests against new coronavirus variants found in the UK and South Africa.
A two-dose regimen of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date, the company said.
Moderna, however, said it would test a vaccine booster against the South Africa variant in pre-clinical trials to see if that would be more effective in boosting antibodies against the variant and other future variants.
Although all viruses mutate constantly, scientists are concerned about the mutations discovered in Britain and South Africa because they are believed to be capable of altering key functions of the virus.
“As we seek to defeat the Covid-19 virus, which has created a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.
“Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants,” Bancel said.
The South African variant reportedly has multiple mutations of the “spike” protein in the virus that enables it to attach to cells in the human body.
It is also believed to carry a higher viral load and therefore to be more contagious.