Infectious Disease

In keeping with Moderna, the COVID-19 vaccine will defend towards variants however will look into including boosters

January 25, 2021

2 min read

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Disclosure:
Edwards is employed by Moderna. In the study you will find all relevant financial information from all other authors.

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Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine continues to protect against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, including those first identified in the UK and South Africa.

In experiments, the vaccine showed reduced neutralizing activity compared to the variant first reported in South Africa, but was still protective, according to the company.

Covid vaccination

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective against emerging strains of COVID-19, including those from the UK and South Africa.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

The vaccine is one of two vaccines approved in the United States for COVID-19. The other shot, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, also appears to be effective against virus variants, the companies previously said.

The emerging variants have caused some consternation among experts, who expect it could make it harder to respond in the coming months.

The variants have “raised concerns about their increased transmission rates and their potential to bypass the immunity induced by natural infections or vaccinations”. Therein K. Edwards, PhD, The Director of Immunology in Moderna’s Infectious Diseases Group and colleagues wrote an accompanying preprint article summarizing the results of in vitro neutralization tests on sera from study participants who received the vaccine as part of a phase 1 clinical trial .

The results of the study indicated that the antibody response elicited by the vaccine gave a similar level of neutralization against variants as against the original strain. Moderna found that the variant first identified in South Africa, known as B.1.351, had a six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers compared to previously identified variants. However, the neutralization of titers at B.1.351 remained higher than those expected to offer protection, the company said.

“Data from this set of samples show that mRNA-1273 retained activity against all circulating strain variants tested to date, and only the B.1.351 variant showed reduced neutralizing titers as judged by vaccinated human and NHP sera,” Edwards wrote and colleagues.

Out of “caution”, Moderna announced that it would start a clinical program to strengthen immunity against emerging variants and test an additional booster dose of the vaccine to investigate the possibility of increasing neutralizing titers against emerging strains beyond the existing primary strains increase vaccination series. The vaccine is currently given in two doses 28 days apart.

Moderna is also planning to push an up and coming variant booster candidate against the variant first reported in South Africa. The booster is being tested in preclinical studies as well as in a phase 1 study in the USA

“The emergence of strain variants and the ability of the virus to partially overcome natural or vaccine-induced immunity are a call to action, indicating that further efforts must be made to vaccinate with the currently approved mRNA regimens,” to prevent future variants from occurring that may further elude immunity, ”wrote Edwards and colleagues. “In addition, active virus surveillance and testing of protection against new virus variants must continue and, when warranted, new vaccination efforts must be made to protect against breakthrough strains.”

References:

Press release

Wu K et al. bioRxiv. 2021; doi: 10.1101 / 2021.01.25.427948.

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