United States based pharma company Moderna said that its Covids-19 vaccine that is already being used in a number of countries is effective against the new variants of the virus that have been detected in Britain and South Africa
However the company said on Monday that the vaccine seems to be a little less effective in preventing the strain of the virus that has emerged from South Africa. Hence the company is now working to develop a new form of the vaccine which can be used as a booster shot against that South African variant of the virus.
“We’re doing it today to be ahead of the curve should we need to,” Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview. “I think of it as an insurance policy.”
“I don’t know if we need it, and I hope we don’t,” he added.
The conclusions drawn by Moderna were based on a study comprising of blood samples from eight people who had already received the two required doses of its vaccine. The study also used blood from two monkeys that were also immunized.
There was no impact on the levels of neutralizing antibodies by the British variant wherein antibodies are those that can disable the virus following the vaccination. However the study revealed a sixfold reduction in those levels when the antibodies were exposed to the South African variant of the virus.
Despite this the company assured that the antibodies still “remain above levels that are expected to be protective.”
This study was conducted by Moderna in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The result of the study has not yet been published or been peer reviewed but have been submitted to bioRxiv which posts preliminary studies online.
The action by Moderna is a part of a global effort to bring under control a virus that is mutating at a fast pace which poses a threat to nullify the vaccination efforts undertaken so far.
A number of new variants of the virus have emerged and scientists are worried about this phenomenon of this virus. A variant of the virus that was first detected in Britain is bow believed to be twice as infectious as the original virus that had emerged from Wuhan in China and now researchers also have started to suspect that it would be more deadly as well.
Separate variants of the virus have also been detected in South Africa and Brazil and initial studies in labs have indicated that these tow variants could have developed some levels of resistance to the immunity that are developed in people after they recover from an infection or after they are immunised by the Cvoid-19 vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.
People who get inoculated by its vaccine can opt to take the new version of the Moderna vaccine, which the company is preparing to target the South African variant, as a booster dose, Dr. Zaks said.