Moderna's 'tweaked' Covid vaccine effective against Brazil and South Africa variants
The Moderna vaccine was the third to be approved in the UK - PA
Moderna has developed the first "optimized" vaccine that it believes is effective against Covid-19 variants.
Early data from a 40-person study shows that a third dose of the current Covid-19 jab or an experimental new vaccine candidate increases immunity to variants first found in Brazil and South Africa.
"We are encouraged by this new data, which increases our confidence that our booster strategy should protect against these newly discovered variants," said the company's CEO, Stephane Bancel.
Forty participants were tested for their neutralizing antibodies with two shots six to eight months after their first series of vaccinations.
A third inclusion of the original Moderna vaccine or a variant-specific booster improved antibody levels against two main variants, which were first detected in South Africa and Brazil.
The variant-specific booster performed better than the original shot and produced almost twice as many neutralizing antibodies.
The US biotech company is also testing a third type of booster, which is a combination of the other two types, and plans to announce results on it soon.
Neutralizing antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system that are tailored to bind to a specific structure of a microbe.
In the case of the coronavirus, these are its spike proteins that dot the surface and give it its characteristic crown-like appearance.
Binding to these spikes prevents the virus from attaching itself to our cells and invading them.
Neutralizing antibodies are therefore important first lines of defense in preventing infection.
However, the immune system contains many other key players that, especially in people vaccinated against the original virus or previously infected, can cause and prevent serious illnesses, even if a variant breaks through and infects the host.
Read more: How the vaccines compare Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and other Covid vaccines
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