Moderna says vaccine is effective against new Covid variants

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Modern vaccine
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Thomson Reuters

Moderna has said its Covid-19 vaccine produced virus-neutralising antibodies in laboratory tests against new coronavirus variants found in the UK and South Africa.

A two-dose regimen of the Moderna Covid vaccine is expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date, the company said.

However, the company said it plans to start clinical trials of an altered booster version of its Covid vaccine aimed at the South African variant after tests showed its authorised vaccine may produce a diminished antibody response.

It will also test an additional booster shot of its authorised vaccine in trials to see if it boosts antibody reaction against the South Africa variant. The current regimen is for two shots four weeks apart.

Although all viruses mutate constantly, scientists are concerned about the mutations discovered in Britain and South Africa because they are believed to be capable of altering key functions of the virus.

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The company said in a press release that it was being cautious and that the two-dose regimen of the vaccine was still expected to be protective against the South African and other variants detected to date.

Moderna said the vaccine did not see any impact from the UK variant – which has been shown to be more transmissible – in the tests.

The company said it plans to publish data from its tests against the South African and UK variants on the website bioRxiv.

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