Moderna on Monday vowed confidence in its COVID-19 vaccine’s ability to remain effective against emerging strains of the virus, namely the South African and U.K. variants, following results from a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study.
The company had been conducting in vitro neutralization studies of sera from individuals vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine that was then exposed to the newly detected variants.
The results from the trial show no significant impact in the vaccine’s effectiveness of neutralizing the virus, despite the introduction of new variants, according to the news release. However, the company will forge ahead with plans to test a booster shot “to further increase neutralizing titers against emerging strains,” as well as advance another variant booster candidate specifically against the South African variant.
“As we seek to defeat the COVID-19 virus, which has created a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna. “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.”
Pfizer and BioNTech already vouched confidence in their COVID-19 vaccines ability to protect against new variants. Earlier in January, the companies posted a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study that showed the jab remained effective against both the U.K. and South African strains.
Moderna’s update comes after a concerning preliminary study suggested that the South African variant had the ability to escape the neutralization power by antibodies in convalescent plasma, potentially opening the door to weakness in both vaccines and therapeutics.
Pfizer had previously told Fox News that the vaccine’s mRNA platform allows for “flexibility” in the ability to alter RNA sequence in the vaccine to cover new strains if need be. Moderna also chose to develop its vaccine on mRNA technology but had previously been mum on effectiveness against new variants.
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.