On Wednesday, Moderna (MRNA.O) and competitor Pfizer (PFE.N) revealed that their upgraded COVID-19 vaccines had robust responses in tests against the highly mutated BA.2.86 subvariant of the coronavirus, which has sparked concerns about a comeback of infections.
In human clinical studies, Moderna's injection produced an 8.7-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against BA.2.86 when compared to an untreated natural antibody response.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are presently monitoring the new variant.
Moderna head of infectious diseases Jacqueline Miller said in an interview, “We think this is news people will want to hear as they prepare to go out and get their fall boosters,” adding that the data should also help reassure regulators.
BA.2.86 may be more capable of producing infection in patients who have already had COVID or who have been immunized with earlier doses, according to the CDC.
In comparison to XBB.1.5, the dominant variety for most of 2023 and the target of the revised injections, the Omicron branch has more than 35 alterations in crucial parts of the virus.
Moderna stated that it had informed regulators of the novel vaccine discovery and has submitted it for peer-review publication.
The retooled injection is still awaiting FDA approval, but it is likely to be ready later this month or in early October.
The Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical, as well as competitor COVID-19 vaccine producers Novavax and Pfizer, have developed versions of their injections directed at the XBB.1.5 subvariant alongside German partner BioNTech.
In early testing, Moderna and Pfizer's new vaccines proved to be effective against another new subvariant of concern known as EG.5.