U.S. biotechnology company Moderna said Monday laboratory studies had shown its Covid-19 vaccine would continue to protect against variants of the coronavirus first identified in the UK and South Africa.
As a precaution, the company will test adding a second booster to its vaccine – to get a total of three shots – and has begun preclinical studies on a booster specifically for the South African variant.
“We are encouraged by this new data, which increases our confidence that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should protect against these newly discovered variants,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna.
“Out of caution and using the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are bringing an aspiring variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa to the clinic.”
To study the effects of the existing vaccine called mRNA-1273, Moderna took blood samples from eight people who had received two doses of the vaccine and two primates who had also been immunized.
In the case of variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in Great Britain, there was no influence on the amount of neutralizing antibodies that bind to the virus and prevent it from entering human cells.
In the South African variant B.1.351, however, the content of neutralizing antibodies was reduced by six times.
Even so, it remained above what had been shown to be protective in previous tests on intentionally infected primates.
The company that conducted the studies with the National Institutes of Health submitted the study to a preprint server for analysis by the wider scientific community.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)