Moderna announced Wednesday it is studying three different ways to combat a variant of the COVID-19 virus that was originally found in South Africa.
The South African variant has been of particular concern for public health officials given it is both more transmissible and current vaccines have been less effective combating it.
Moderna has administered millions of people with a two-shot coronavirus vaccine. The second dose is considered a “booster,” and comes nearly a month after the first shot is administered. Combined, the two doses provide 95% effectiveness against the coronavirus. But it appears the two combined doses are less effective against the South African variant.
Moderna is looking into a combined booster shot that would. It is also looking into a variant-specific booster. And finally, Moderna is studying the effects of the standard vaccine booster on the South African variant.
“We look forward to beginning the clinical study of our variant booster and are grateful for the NIH’s continued collaboration to combat this pandemic,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “As we seek to defeat COVID-19, we must be vigilant and proactive as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge. Leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are moving quickly to test updates to the vaccines that address emerging variants of the virus in the clinic. Moderna is committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control. We hope to demonstrate that booster doses, if necessary, can be done at lower dose levels, which will allow us to provide many more doses to the global community in late 2021 and 2022 if necessary.”