American biotech company Moderna on Wednesday published the first positive results related to trials of a modified version of its vaccine developed specifically against the South African alternative, in addition to the effect of a third dose of its initial vaccine against COVID-19.
“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforces our confidence in the idea that our enhanced dose strategy should provide protection against these new variables,” said Stephan Bancel, president of Moderna.
Forty people were already vaccinated, that is, those who had received two doses of the first Moderna vaccine six to eight months before these trials, participated in them.
Some received a third injection of a new combination (called mRNA-1273.351) developed against the South African variant, while others received a third dose of the primary vaccine.
These two options “increased levels of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and two variants of concern,” Moderna said, namely the South African and the Brazilian.
Antibody levels were measured in the participants two weeks after the third injection. They “increased to similar or higher levels” than those observed after the first series of two injections, the company affirms.
Moderna added that a specially developed vaccine formulation against the South African variant was found to be more effective against it than the original vaccine.
Another option, a dose containing the original vaccine and the new formulation, is also under investigation, but no results have yet been revealed.
Moderna vaccine uses a new technology called messenger RNA (mRNA).
Stefan Bancel said that this technology “allows the rapid manufacture of candidate vaccines that include the main mutations of the virus, which could allow faster development of alternative vaccines in the future” against potential new variants.
He added: “We will continue to make as many updates as necessary for our COVID-19 vaccine in order to control the epidemic.”