Moderna’s vaccine is effective against new variants of the coronavirus that have emerged in Britain and South Africa, the company has announced. But it appears to be less protective against the variant discovered in South Africa, and so the company is developing a new form of the vaccine that could be used as a booster shot against that virus.
“We’re doing it today to be ahead of the curve should we need to,” said Dr Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer. He added: “I don’t know if we need it, and I hope we don’t.”
Moderna on Monday, local time, reported findings from a study that used blood samples from eight people who had received two doses of the vaccine and two monkeys that had also been immunised.
The British variant had no effect on the levels of neutralising antibodies – the type that can disable the virus – produced after vaccination. But with the South African form, there was a six-fold reduction in those levels.