Moderna's Chief Medical Officer Just Gave This Upsetting Update
The company has found that the vaccine is less effective against one strain.
With the various new strains of COVID that have popped up around the world, people are left wondering how these mutations might affect our approach to combating the virus. One of the biggest concerns about the new variants is whether the current vaccines will work against them. A recent study from Moderna found that while the vaccine is effective against the new variants, it's significantly less effective against one strain of COVID. Tal Zaks, MD, Moderna's chief medical officer, said the company is responding to this information with another proactive vaccine. Keep reading for more on Moderna's concerning discovery, and for insight on the future of the pandemic, The Moderna CEO Just Made This Scary Prediction About COVID.
The Moderna vaccine is less effective against the South Africa strain.
A statement from Moderna on Jan. 25 shared the findings of a study on how the new strains would respond to the vaccine. According to the study, there was a "six-fold reduction" in the creation of antibodies against the South Africa variant of COVID.
While this makes the vaccine less effective in protecting against this specific strain, Moderna said the antibodies from the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective." However, to be proactive, the company has jumped into action to address this gap in protection. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Moderna is developing an additional dose that could provide protection against the South Africa strain.
In response to the recent discovery, Moderna is now developing a booster dose that would provide more protection against the South Africa strain and other emerging strains. "Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants," Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, said in the statement.
"We're doing it today to be ahead of the curve should we need to. I think of it as an insurance policy," Zaks told The New York Times. "I don't know if we need it, and I hope we don't." And for more vaccine news, Dr. Fauci Says He Had These Side Effects From His Second Vaccine Dose.
The new dose could be used as a booster shot against other strains.
Not only would the new dose in development provide additional protection from the South Africa strain, but it could also help bolster protection against other strains. Zaks told The New York Times that while the new version of the vaccine is aimed to address the South Africa strain, it could be used as a booster the year after people receive their original vaccine.
Whether a person would need this kind of booster could be determined by blood tests that identify a person's level of antibodies, or by monitoring the vaccinated population closely to see if those people begin to get infected. And for more things doctors can determine from your blood, If You Have This Blood Type, You're at a High Risk of Severe COVID.
The Moderna vaccine is fully effective against the U.K. strain.
According to Moderna's study, the vaccine is fully effective against the U.K. strain, which has already been making its way through the U.S. Unlike the South Africa strain, this variant had no impact on the levels of antibodies produced from the vaccination.
Bancel says this data reinforces confidence that the vaccine "should be protective against these newly detected variants." And for more vaccines you should know about, These Are the Side Effects of the New Johnson & Johnson Vaccine.
Zaks is confident Moderna can respond to other strains as they come.
Zaks told The New York Times that the Moderna vaccine took 42 days to develop, so he hopes the company would be able to produce a new one as needed "hopefully a little faster this time, but not much." He specifically noted the Brazil strain of the virus that has begun circulating abroad.
"We don't yet have data on the Brazilian variant. Our expectation is that, if anything, it should be close to the South African one. That's the one with the most overlap," Zaks said. "New strains will continue to emerge, and we'll continue to evaluate them." And to make sure you're prepared for your vaccine, If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.