Moderna claims its booster vaccine effective against Omicron
As Omicron variant spreads fast across continents, US-based vaccine major Moderna Inc announced on Monday (December 20) that its COVID-19 vaccine booster dose appears to be providing adequate protection against the fast-spreading variant.
The company said lab tests suggest the present version of the vaccine would continue to be Moderna’s “first line of defense against Omicron.” While Moderna’s current mRNA-1273 vaccine is in use, the company is on course to make a vaccine specifically to protect against Omicron with clinical trials starting early next year.
Dr Paul Burton, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, told Reuters: “What we have available right now is 1273, which is highly effective, and it’s extremely safe. I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months, when we’re going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron.”
As per the initial lab reports, a two-dose course of Moderna vaccine generated low neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, but a 50 microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant 37 fold. A 100 microgram booster dose of the same vaccine drove antibody levels even higher.
Moderna said the 100 microgram dose was generally safe and well tolerated, but there could be “slightly more frequent adverse reactions”.
US regulators authorized the 50 microgram booster of Moderna’s vaccine in October. The first two shots of Moderna’s vaccine are both 100 micrograms.
A few days back, Moderna had observed that the Omicron variant includes mutations seen in the Delta variant that supposedly increase transmissibility and mutations seen in the Beta and Delta variants. The combination of mutations represents a significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity. Hence, a booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity, the company had stated.