Moderna Says COVID-19 Vaccine Retains Neutralizing Activity Against Emerging Coronavirus Strains

Moderna Inc. (MRNA) said Monday that results from in vitro neutralization studies of sera from individuals vaccinated with the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, showed activity against emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2.

Moderna noted that vaccination with its COVID-19 vaccine produced neutralizing titers against all key emerging variants tested. These include B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, first identified in the UK and Republic of South Africa, respectively.

The two-dose regimen of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the 100 g dose is expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date, the company said.

This study was conducted in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study showed no significant impact on neutralizing titers against the B.1.1.7 variant relative to prior variants. A six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers was observed with the B.1.351 variant relative to prior variants, according to the company.

As part of its clinical strategy to proactively address the pandemic as the virus continues to evolve, Moderna said it will test an additional booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine to study the ability to further increase neutralizing titers against emerging strains beyond the existing primary vaccination series.

In addition, Moderna is advancing an emerging variant booster candidate (mRNA-1273.351) against the B.1.351 variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa.

The company is advancing mRNA-1273.351 into preclinical studies and a Phase 1 study in the U.S. to evaluate the immunological benefit of boosting with strain-specific spike proteins.

Moderna said it expects that its mRNA-based booster vaccine, whether mRNA-1273 or mRNA-1273.351, will be able to further boost neutralizing titers in combination with all of the leading vaccine candidates.

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