US biotech firm Moderna said Wednesday that doses of its new Covid vaccine candidate aimed at the South African coronavirus variant had been shipped to the US National Institutes of Health for testing.
“We look forward to beginning the clinical study of our variant booster and are grateful for the NIH’s continued collaboration to combat this pandemic,” said CEO Stephane Bancel.
The South African variant is considered among the more dangerous of current mutations because it evades some of the blocking action of antibodies that target the older coronavirus strain.
This means that people who were infected with the classic strain are more susceptible to reinfection, and research has also shown it has partly reduced the protection of the current generation of vaccines.
While initial testing has shown that Moderna’s original vaccine called mRNA-1273 remains effective against emerging variants, the company said it was pursuing development of the variant-specific vaccine as part of a number of strategies being considered.
Either a South Africa variant-specific booster candidate, called mRNA-1273.351, could be used as a booster, or the company might use a booster that combines the classic vaccine with the variant-specific mRNA-1273.351 to create a new combination product.
Another idea is that people could receive a third dose of the classic vaccine to raise their overall immunity.
Moderna is also looking at the possibility of using the South Africa variant-specific mRNA-1273.351 or the combination shot as the primary dose.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced that drug makers developing variant specific vaccines wouldn’t need to go through the same lenghty process of authorization they had to for their original shots.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)