US-based Moderna has reported that its COVID-19 vaccine seems to work effectively against new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa.
The early laboratory studies, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, showed that individuals vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated activity against both strains of SARS-CoV-2.
According to the company, the vaccine produced neutralising antibody titers against ‘all key emerging variants' – including the UK’s B117 and South Africa’s B1351 variants.
Although the study found no significant impact on antibodies against the B117 variant, a six-fold reduction in neutralising antibodies against the B1351 variant was observed – relative to prior variants.
However, Moderna said that despite this reduction, the antibody levels in vaccinated individuals with B1351 remain above the levels needed for protection against the virus.
“The two-dose regimen of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at the 100 µg dose is expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date,” the company said in a statement.
Moderna added that it is planning to test an additional booster dose of its vaccine to study the ability to further increase antibodies against emerging strains.
The company is also advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the South African variant.
“Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.