Moderna begins testing booster shot targeting Omicron

By Robin Foster

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 27, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Moderna Inc. announced on Wednesday that it has launched a trial that will study the power of a redesigned booster shot — one that hones the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The news comes just a day after Pfizer announced it has begun testing its own Omicron-specific recording.

In announcing the trial, Moderna also explained why the newly formulated injection is needed: A small lab study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the protection Moderna’s authorized booster injection provides against Omicron fades after six months.

After a single dose of the current booster, levels of Omicron-fighting antibodies rose 20 times above their pre-uptake peak, the company said. But those antibody levels had increased more than six-fold six months later, though they were still detected in all of the booster recipients in the study.

“We are reassured by the persistence of antibodies to Omicron six months after the currently authorized 50 µg booster of mRNA-1273. Nevertheless, given the long-term threat demonstrated by Omicron’s immune escape, we are advancing our Omicron-specific variant vaccine booster candidate,” said Stéphane Bancel. , CEO of Moderna, in a company statement.

Although Omicron can evade the antibodies generated by authorized vaccines, making breakthrough infections more common, the vaccines still provide strong protection against hospitalization and death, several studies have already shown.

Moderna’s new study will focus on a single Omicron-specific booster dose in about 600 adults, divided into two groups: those who received two doses of Moderna’s current vaccine, and those who received two doses plus a booster.

The company has not said when results can be expected.

Pfizer, which plans to enroll as many as 1,420 people for its study, said it expects results in the first half of this year.

Both Omicron-specific booster shots are being developed as the Omicron variant establishes its dominance in this country: Latest data from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that 99.9% of US COVID cases are now caused by the very portable variant.

More information

For more information about COVID vaccines, visit the US Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCE: Associated Press, The New York Times

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