Tweaked Moderna vaccine shown to ‘neutralise COVID variants’

Limited data in trials shows that a tweaked Moderna vaccine is effective against COVID strains.

US company Moderna has revealed that their first tweaked COVID vaccine has proven to be effective against the virus’s South African and Brazilian strains.

Concerning variants spark need for new COVID boosters

The new vaccine trial suggests that boosters aimed at COVID variants are feasible and could be rolled out this year.

Fears have recently been rising as new coronavirus variants have been popping up all over the world, some threatening a higher transmission rate and the ability to surpass immune responses. Now, vaccine companies such as Pfizer/AstraZeneca and Oxford/BioNTech are racing to develop the next tweaked jab that targets the South African B1351 variant and the Brazilian P1 variant.

Moderna first to produce tweaked vaccine

Moderna is the first company to announce the results of its tweaked COVID vaccine. So far, the preliminary studies seem promising, but further research will need to be done to know more.

Moderna tested both a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine alongside a dose of the new strain resistant booster; these jabs were then tested on forty people (twenty people for each vaccine) who had already had their first two doses.

Two weeks after administering the boosters, both vaccines increased antibodies to prevent the concerning variants. However, the tweaked vaccine - called mRNA-1273.351 - produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies compared to the regular Moderna booster - known as mRNA-1273.

The new Moderna booster vaccine has yet to be trialled in the field, but authorities have revealed that it will not have to go through the same rigorous testing as the initialCOVID vaccines.

Moderna is now running a trial to determine the ability to combine both the standard vaccine and the booster specifically designed to target COVID variants. Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna revealed:

Our mRNA platform allows for rapid design of vaccine candidates that incorporate key virus mutations, potentially allowing for faster development of future alternative variant-matched vaccines should they be needed … We will continue to make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary to control the pandemic.
Emergence of COVID variant that evades vaccines ‘almost certain’ Emergence of COVID variant that evades vaccines ‘almost certain’