Moderna's vaccine that targets the Omicron version of Covid-19 is moving forward. On Wednesday, the American biotechnology company reported positive preliminary results for its modified vaccine. Moderna stated in a statement that a booster dose of 50 micrograms produced a "superior antibody response...against Omicron variant one-month after administration"
The new vaccine formula, mRNA-1273.214 is so-called "bivalent". It targets both the original strain of the virus, which is the same as the one currently available in the world, but also the Omicron variant. According to the company, Omicron antibodies increased 8-fold with this dose compared to baseline.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel stated that "we anticipate prolonged protection against variants causing concern with mRNA-1273.214," making it the lead candidate for a recall in fall 2022. He said that they are currently submitting preliminary data and analyses to regulators with the expectation of having our bivalent booster containing Omicron available by late summer.
Side effects were similar to the original vaccine and the dose was well tolerated by all 437 participants. The company plans to continue studying the immune response for another 91 days.
All vaccines in circulation today are based on the original strain of the virus. They have slowly become less effective against new variants. The US Medicines Agency (FDA), plans to convene a committee to examine the issue of an updated vaccine. This will be in preparation for a major recall campaign next autumn. According to the FDA, experts will examine whether the strain of virus used in the development of current vaccines needs to be modified and, if so which strain(s), should be chosen for fall 2022.