Covid-19: Moderna announces positive results for Omicron vaccine

The so-called 'bivalent' shot was tested in a trial of 850 adults



AFP
AFP

By AFP

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 5:27 PM

US biotech company Moderna on Wednesday announced positive results for a new vaccine that targets both the original Covid strain and Omicron.

This so-called “bivalent” vaccine was tested in a trial of 850 adults, who had all received their first three doses of Moderna’s original Spikevax vaccine.

Around half the group then received a fourth dose of Spikevax, while the rest received the bivalent vaccine.

Those who received the bivalent vaccine had significantly higher levels of neutralising antibodies — Y-shaped immune system proteins that block the virus — against Omicron.

On average, these levels were around 75 percent higher in the group who got the bivalent vaccine as a fourth dose compared to those who got the original vaccine as a fourth dose. They also received slightly superior protection to the ancestral strain of Covid compared to Spikevax.

“We are thrilled,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna in a statement, adding he anticipated this vaccine would be the company’s lead candidate for authorisation as a booster this fall.

“We want to be as ready as early as August for shipping,” he told investors in a call.

Stephen Hoge, the company’s president, did concede that antibody levels would be lower against Omicron’s sub variants that are now in circulation, but said he believed it was still a superior booster than repeating Spikevax.

The company doesn’t yet have data on durability — how the new vaccine booster will fare three months and six months out.

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