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Moderna’s booster vaccine for South African variant demonstrates promising early results

Booster vaccine candidate increase neutralising titers against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in preclinical study

Moderna has revealed preclinical data evaluating its South African variant-specific vaccine candidates, with early evidence that the booster jabs may be effective against ‘variants of concern’.

Preclinical data for Moderna’s variant-specific jabs has been submitted to the pre-print server bioRxiv and will also be submitted for peer-review publication, the company said in a statement yesterday.

This includes data on two candidates – mRNA-1273.351, which targets the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa and mRNA-1273.211, a multivalent booster candidate that combines Moderna’s authorised vaccine against ancestral strain and mRNA-1273.351 in a single vaccine.

According to the preclinical evidence, both booster vaccine candidates increase neutralising titers against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in mice.

In particular, the data confirms improved neutralising titers from the mRNA-1273.351 vaccine, with the multivalent vaccine providing the broadest level of immunity.

The company added that a boost at six month with the mRNA-1273.351 candidate closed the neutralising titer gap for the variants of concerns.

In addition, neutralising titers were comparable between the ancestral strain and the B.1.351 variant following a booster dose of mRNA-1273.351.

In a previous laboratory study, researchers observed no significant impact on antibodies with the UK variant, relative to prior variants, for the Moderna vaccine.

However, they noted that there was a six-fold reduction in neutralising antibodies observed with the B.1.351 strain, although Moderna added that the levels induced by its vaccine should still offer protection.

“The new preclinical data on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants. Moderna will make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.

Yesterday, the first doses of the Moderna vaccine were delivered in England as part of the nation’s vaccination programme.

The NHS said in a statement that over 27 million people in England have received their first COVID-19 jab, and over 6.1 million second doses have also been administered so far.

“The Moderna rollout marks another milestone in the vaccination programme,” said Stephen Powis, NHS medical director.

“We now have a third jab in our armoury and NHS staff will be using it at more than 20 sites from this week, with more coming online as supplies expand,” he added.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted the Moderna vaccine a temporary authorisation in January.

Following the approval, the UK secured an additional ten million doses of the jab, taking the total ordered to 17 million.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

14th April 2021

From: Research

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