Vaccine will be effective against new variants of virus, says Moderna
LONDON (UK) – The coronavirus vaccine can offer protection against the new highly infectious variant of the virus detected in Britain and South Africa, said Moderna Inc on Monday, adding that it will test a new booster shot targeting the South African variant after finding that the antibody response could be diminished.
In a press release, the firm said it found no reduction in the antibody response against the variant found in Britain. When it came to the South African variant, it detected a reduced response. However, it believes its two-dose regimen would provide ample protection.
The detection of new variants of the virus in Britain, South Africa and Brazil has created some concern that mutations in the virus can make vaccines less effective.
The pharmaceutical firm is also looking at whether a booster dose, either of its existing vaccine or of a new shot to protect against the South African variant, could be mass produced in future if there is enough evidence to prove that protection declined.
“The virus isn’t going to stand still,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said on a conference call. “While the current strains appear to be well-protected by our COVID-19 … it’s important that we remain vigilant and develop potential tools and countermeasures that would allow us to continue to beat back the pandemic.”
According to Moderna, its vaccine will provide protection for a year after finishing the two-dose course.
It is encouraging to note that the antibody response of the Moderna vaccine to the South African variant is still above the levels providing protection, said Jefferies analyst Michael Yee in a note.
Yee also said the speed with which they were able to design a new booster dose was evidence of the flexibility of the new mRNA technology upon which it is based.
“The goal of this vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital and to keep you out of the morgue. If you get a symptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection that is not a burden to the healthcare system,” Offit said.