Moderna said on Wednesday that its new Covid-19 booster vaccine candidate, which the company hopes to see approved in the fall, is effective against the latest Omicron subvariants.
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The American biotechnology company had recently announced that its so-called “
” vaccine (targeting both the initial strain of the virus and the Omicron variant) had better results against both than its original vaccine, dubbed Spikevax.
In new clinical study results, the company reported that the booster also worked well against BA.4 and BA.5, the latest Omicron subvariants that are becoming dominant due to their increased ability to escape previous immunity and their better transmissibility.
A discovery of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants last April
The bivalent booster elicited high levels of infection-blocking antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 in both previously infected and previously uninfected individuals.
However, even these high levels were only a third of the levels achieved against the original Omicron strain, BA.1.
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We will submit this data to regulators urgently and prepare to deliver our next-generation bivalent booster beginning in August, ahead of a potential increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to Omicron subvariants in early fall
said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement.
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants plagued South Africa, where they were first discovered, in April and May - despite high population immunity achieved in recent waves and through vaccinations.
Like other Omicron variants, they tend to have a milder course as they settle less in the lungs and more in the upper nasal passages, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and loss of smell.