Infectious Disease

Moderna, Pfizer say updated COVID-19 vaccines protect against EG.5

August 18, 2023

2 min read

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Disclosures:
Hoge is employed by Moderna. The spokesperson is employed by Pfizer.

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Key takeaways:

  • Moderna and Pfizer say their updated COVID-19 vaccines work against the emerging EG.5 omicron subvariant.
  • The vaccines are expected to be available this fall.

Moderna this week said preliminary clinical trial data confirmed that its updated COVID-19 vaccine provides a “significant boost” in neutralizing antibodies against emerging SARS-CoV-2 viruses and is expected to effectively target them.

“These new results, which show that our updated COVID-19 vaccine generates a robust immune response against the rapidly spreading EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 strains, reflects our updated vaccine’s ability to address emerging COVID-19 threats,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge, MD, said in a press release.

COVID vaccine draw

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech expect their updated COVID-19 vaccines to be protective against EG.5. Image: Adobe Stock

FDA advisors recommended in June that the country’s COVID-19 vaccines be updated to remove the original, wild strain of SARS-CoV-2 and target only XBB lineages, after XBB.1.5 became the dominant omicron subvariant in January.

EG.5, a descendent lineage of an XBB virus, has emerged this summer as the new dominant SARS-CoV-2 virus amid a COVID-19 wave. It is the cause of roughly one-fifth of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the CDC and has been named a variant of concern by WHO.

A Pfizer spokesperson told Healio that the company continues to test its own monovalent vaccine against emerging variants, with encouraging results.

“A recent study in mice showed that our updated monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine effectively neutralized a number of omicron XBB variants, including XBB.1.5 and EG.5.1,” the spokesperson said.

Experts have said EG.5 does not appear to cause more severe disease or increase the hospitalization or death risk over previous variants. It is estimated to have been the cause of 20.6% of new cases in the U.S. over the past 2 weeks, according to the CDC. FL.1.5.1 caused 13.3% of cases, followed by eight XBB viruses that collectively represent about 50% of cases, according to the CDC.

References:

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