Moderna says its new Covid vaccine is effective against variant BA.2.86

Artur Fedak | Norphoto | Getty Images

Moderna Inc.’s new COVID vaccine produced a strong immune response against BA.2.86, a highly mutated omicron variant that health officials are watching closely, according to clinical trial data released by the biotechnology company on Wednesday.

The updated shot produced an 8.7-fold increase in protective antibodies against BA.2.86, which were detected in small numbers nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said the strain, also known as pyrrola, may be better able to evade antibodies from previous infections and vaccinations, but new research also suggests the variant may be less immunologically elusive than feared.

Moderna is the first among the companies that produce updated COVID-19 vaccines to publish data on the efficacy of its vaccine against BA.2.86. Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax are set to roll out new vaccines targeting another omicron strain called XBB.1.5 within weeks, pending potential approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Results from Moderna’s trial indicate that the company’s vaccine will remain effective against newer variants of the virus as XBB.1.5 declines nationwide. Last month, Moderna also released clinical trial data indicating that its new vaccine offers protection against the now-dominant EG.5 or “Eris” variant and another rapidly spreading strain called FL.1.5.1.

“Take into account our previously reported results showing a similar effective response against EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants, these data confirm that our updated COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be an important tool of protection as we approach fall.” “Vaccination season,” Moderna President Stephen Hogg said in a statement.

New vaccines are set to arrive as the iris virus and other COVID variants lead to a surge in cases and hospitalizations across the country.

Hospitalization rates for the coronavirus jumped 18.8% in the week ending Aug. 19, and 87% over the past month, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those measures are still below the levels seen when the surge strained hospitals last summer.

Iris accounts for 21.5% of all cases in the United States as of Saturday, while FL.1.5.1 accounts for 14.5%, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, the CDC noted that BA.2.86 has been found in four US states, but it is still so rare that it is not listed as a standalone strain in the CDC’s variant tracker tool.

(tags for translation) Vaccines

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