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Moderna vaccine works against UK COVID-19 variant, South Africa variant must be improved

Christian Fernsby |
Moderna said Monday it’s accelerating work on a COVID-19 booster shot to guard against the recently discovered variant in South Africa.

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Topics: MODERNA   

The company’s researchers said its current coronavirus vaccine appears to work against the two highly transmissible strains found in the UK and South Africa, although it looks like it may be less effective against the latter.

The two-dose vaccine produced an antibody response against multiple variants, including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, which were first identified in the U.K. and South Africa, respectively, according to a Moderna study conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The study has not yet been peer reviewed.

The vaccine generated a weaker immune response against the South African strain, but the antibodies remained above levels that are expected to be protective against the virus, the company said, adding the findings may suggest “a potential risk of earlier waning of immunity to the new B.1.351 strains.”

“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,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement.


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