Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine offers greater protection against variants

Moderna announced on Tuesday what a redesigned version of the company The COVID-19 vaccine generated a stronger immune response against variants of the virus than your current vaccine.

Initial clinical data showed that participants who received a 50-microgram dose of the new vaccine produced more antibodies against the beta, delta and omicron variants one month after administration compared to a booster dose of the original vaccine. The answer it continued after six months for the beta and omicron variants.

The Moderna’s redesigned version of the COVID-19 vaccine now targets nine mutations found in the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2, four of which are also found in the omicron variant.

While the updated vaccine also raised antibody levels against the delta variant, it did not demonstrate a better response compared to a booster dose of the original vaccine, the company said.

The trial data also showed that the candidate vaccine had no serious side effects and that short-term reactions were comparable to a 50-microgram booster dose of Moderna’s original COVID-19 vaccine. The most common side effects were muscle and injection site pain, fatigue, and headache.

The study included 895 participants who received either 50 micrograms or 100 micrograms booster dose of the updated vaccine.

The redesigned vaccine is considered “bivalent” because it targets the original strain of the virus and the beta variant. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement that clinical data validates its bivalent strategy, which the company announced in February 2021.

Moderna has a more omicron-specific bivalent vaccine in development that targets 32 mutations found in the variant. Initial results on the candidate are expected later this spring.

“We believe that a bivalent booster vaccine, if licensed, would create a new tool as we continue to respond to emerging variants,” Bancel said.

Outside experts are divided in their opinion on the new bivalent vaccine candidate. While some find the results encouraging, others, like John Moore, an immunologist at Weil Cornell Medicine, remain skeptical.

Moore told NPR that he’s not sure the benefits are “worth the expense and hassle” of launching a new vaccine.

The US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has until June to decide if updated COVID-19 vaccines will be needed before an expected surge in infections this fall. some members of the committee are not sure there are new shots necessary yet, CNBC informed.

Initial clinical trial data on Moderna’s vaccine candidate has yet to be reviewed by outside scientists and the study remains ongoing.

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