The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine can still protect people who are infected by the more infectious strains from the UK or South Africa although it may be less effective against the latter and require a booster shot, the drug company announced today.
The Moderna vaccine – along with the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine – are the only two jabs approved for use here yet.
The company is now working on a booster shot for people who get the vaccine and are infected by the South African strain.
Over 6,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been delivered so far and they have been mostly administered to GPs.
The fear is that Covid-19 vaccines will not work against new strains.
A statement said today that no significant impact on the immune response to the UK variant was found.
However, 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.
It is now working on a booster shot against the South African strain in an “abundance of caution.”
This is be because of concerns protections against the South African variant may wane.
The UK variant is now the strain affecting over 60pc of people here who get the virus. The South African strain has not been detected here.
Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna said, “As we seek to defeat the COVID-19 virus, which has created a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna should be protective against these newly detected variants.”
Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Centre at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said he’s glad Moderna is preparing for this possibility.
“Prepare for it. Sequence these viruses. Get ready just in case a variant emerges, which is resistant to the vaccine,” he said..
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said new data showed that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. Some early findings that were published in the preprint server bioRxiv indicate that the South African variant can evade the antibodies provided by some coronavirus treatments.
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