Moderna omicron specific vaccine shows promising results
Moderna says its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, combining its original shot with protection against the Omicron variant, appears to work.
Preliminary results show people given the jab experienced a higher boost in Omicron-fighting antibodies. Pfizer is also studying a combination shot. Antibodies wane over time, so it is not clear how long protection could last.
Vaccine-makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered later this year to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. Moderna's preliminary study results showed people given the combination shot experienced a higher boost in Omicron-fighting antibodies than if they just got a fourth dose of the original vaccine. "We believe strongly that this data supports an update of the vaccine," Moderna's president Dr Stephen Hoge said.
Today's COVID-19 vaccines are all based on the original version of the coronavirus
Experts say they still provide strong protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death, even after the appearance of the Omicron variant — especially if people have had an initial booster dose.
But the virus continues to mutate rapidly in ways that let it evade some of the vaccines' protections and cause milder infections. US regulators and the World Health Organization are considering whether to order a change in the vaccine recipe for a new round of booster shots later this year, when colder weather in the northern hemisphere is expected to drive yet another surge.
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Pfizer is also studying a combination shot, also called sa bivalent vaccine, with some data expected later this month
Moderna's new study tested people who had had three prior vaccinations, giving 377 of them a fourth dose of the original vaccine and another 437 the combo shot.
The study was not designed to track how well the updated booster prevented COVID-19 cases and it was tested only against Omicron, not the variants dominant now. But the bivalent vaccine sparked a nearly eight-fold rise in levels of antibodies capable of fighting Omicron.
Importantly, that was 1.75 times better than the antibody jump from simply giving a fourth dose of the original vaccine, Moderna said
The data has not undergone scientific review, and the initial measurements were taken a month after booster shots.
Antibodies naturally wane, so it is not clear how long any protection would last. Moderna plans to track antibody levels at three and six months. It is already manufacturing doses to be ready if regulators in the US or elsewhere order a change. Original source content here