Moderna said on Wednesday that its new Covid-booster candidate, which it hopes will be approved this fall, has done well against Omicron’s latest subvariants.
The US biotech announced earlier this month that the so-called “bivalent” vaccine, which targets the original Covid strain and the original Omicron BA.1, is better against both compared to its original Covid vaccine called Spikevax cuts off
In new results from a clinical study, the company said the booster shot also performed well against BA.4 and BA.5, Omicron’s newest subvariants that are becoming more dominant thanks to their increased ability to evade earlier immunity and improved transmissibility .
The bivalent booster elicited high levels of infection-blocking antibodies to BA.4 and BA.5 in both previously infected and previously uninfected individuals.
But even these high levels were still a third of what was achieved over the original Omicron strain, BA.1
“We are urgently submitting this data to regulatory authorities and preparing to deliver our next-generation bivalent booster starting in August, ahead of a potential surge in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to Omicron subvariants in early fall,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna in a statement.
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants hit South Africa, where they were first spotted, in April and May – despite high population immunity conferred by previous waves and vaccinations.
Like other Omicron variants, they tend to have a milder disease 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.
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