Covid: Moderna vaccine against South African variant ready for clinical trials

Posted on Feb 24, 2019 2021 at 23:45

It only took a month for the American pharmaceutical group to develop this new serum. On January 25, Moderna announced the development of a specific vaccine against the South African variant of the coronavirus. This Wednesday, February 24, the group announced that it “sent doses” of this candidate vaccine “to the NIH (American National Institutes of Health, Editor’s note), for a clinical study”.

In a statement, Moderna explains that “two strategies against variants” of the coronavirus will be studied by the group. The first aims to assess the effect of a booster, a third dose – the Moderna vaccine currently requires two injections of 100 µg – on immunity to variants of the virus. The second is the use of the original vaccine and the specific vaccine against the South African variant for primary injections.

She intends to evaluate three different booster shots and their effect. The first is a dose of a specific vaccine against the South African variant, called mRNA-1273.351. The second is a dose composed of both the serum against the initial strain of Sars-Cov2, responsible for Covid-19, and the specific vaccine against the South African variant. The third is a 50 µg dose (half of the currently injected dose) of the current vaccine, called mRNA-1273.

The first effective vaccine against variants

The National Institute of American Allergy and Infectious Diseases is due to launch phase 1 trials “after receiving clearance from the FDA,” the US drug agency. She said manufacturers will not have to go through the long authorization process for already approved vaccines again if they are changed to combat the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus, which is expected to greatly shorten the process.

“At the same time, Moderna will conduct its own clinical studies to support regulatory filings for any updated booster vaccine or primary vaccine,” says the group. Moderna recalls that this is a “precautionary measure”. In fact, initial studies carried out in the laboratory, “in vitro”, have shown that vaccination with the Moderna vaccine produces immunity against all emerging variants. However, the rate of neutralizing antibody production was reduced by six in the case of the South African variant. This does not call into question the effectiveness of the serum, according to the group.

“Taking advantage of the flexibility of our mRNA platform (the technology used by this vaccine, editor’s note), we are rapidly testing vaccine updates against the variants that emerge,” comments Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna. Moderna is committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control. “

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