American biotech company Modernna on Wednesday published the first positive results about the trials of a modified version of the vaccine developed against the South African variant, as well as the effect of the third dose of its initial vaccine against COVID-19.
“We are encouraged by this new data, which strengthens our confidence in the idea that our (dosage) booster’s strategy is to protect against these new variants,” said Stefan Bansell, owner of Moderna, in a statement.
Forty people have already been vaccinated, meaning those who received two doses of the early moderna vaccine six to eight months before these trials.
Some received a third injection of the new formulation developed against the South African variant (called mRNA-1273.351), while others received a third dose of the initial vaccine.
Both of these options “increased titers (levels) of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and had two types of concerns” were the South African and Brazilian variants, Moderna said.
Antibody levels were measured in participants two weeks after the third injection. They “increased to a similar or higher level” than those found after the first series of two injections, the company emphasizes.
The vaccine formula developed specifically against the South African variant was found to be more effective against it than the original vaccine, Moderna added.
Another option, a dose that contains both the original vaccine and the new formula, is also being investigated, but no results have been released yet.
Moderna’s vaccine uses a new technology called messenger RNA (mRNA).
The technology “allows for the rapid preparation of candidate vaccines that contain key mutations of the virus, allowing for the rapid development of alternative vaccines in the future,” said Stefan Bansell.
“We will continue to make as many updates as necessary to our COVID-19 vaccine to control the epidemic,” he said.