US-based drugmaker Moderna on Monday said its Covid-19 vaccine retains neutralising activity against emerging variants first identified in the UK and South Africa. Vaccination with the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine produced neutralising titers against all key emerging variants tested, including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, first identified in the UK and South Africa, respectively, the company said on the basis of a study.
However, the company also said it will test an additional booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273) to study the ability to further increase neutralising titers against emerging strains beyond the existing primary vaccination series.
Second, the company is advancing an emerging variant booster candidate (mRNA-1273.351) against the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa.
The company is advancing mRNA-1273.351 into preclinical studies and a Phase 1 study in the US to evaluate the immunological benefit of boosting with strain-specific spike proteins.
Moderna expects that its mRNA-based booster vaccine (whether mRNA-1273 or mRNA-1273.351) will be able to further boost neutralising titers in combination with all of the leading vaccine candidates.
"As we seek to defeat the Covid-19 virus, which has created a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants," Stephane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, said in a statement.
"Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants."