Drugmaker, Moderna says it has shipped doses of its variant-specific booster shot to the National Institutes of Health for clinical trials, a development that is part of Moderna’s efforts to counter strains of the coronavirus that was first discovered in South Africa.
There is no evidence yet to suggest that the coronavirus has mutated in a way that makes it able to evade the existing vaccines, but the prospect remains a serious concern for scientists around the world.
“Moderna is committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
Early studies showed that its original vaccine – which is approved in the US and EU – is less protective against this strain, which has now been detected in at least 40 countries.
The company says it’s ready to do human trials with several different strategies to see what gives more protection – an additional booster to the original vaccine, combining the booster with the original or giving two separate variant-specific vaccines.
Moderna says the new trials will also monitor the immune responses of people already vaccinated and those receiving their first dose of the vaccine.