Moderna Believes Vaccine Will Work Against New Variants

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Moderna Inc said on Monday it believes its Covid-19 vaccine protects against new variants found in Britain and South Africa, although it will test a new booster shot aimed at the South African variant after concluding the antibody response could be diminished.

The company said in a news release it found no reduction in the antibody response against the variant found in Britain. Against the South African variant, it found a reduced response but still believed its two-dose regimen would provide protection.

Moderna shares closed 12.2 per cent higher at $147.00 on Monday.

India manufactures more than 60 per cent of all vaccines sold across the globe, and while its $40 billion pharmaceutical sector is not yet involved in the production of the expensive Pfizer Inc and Moderna shots, the nation will play a pivotal role in immunising much of the world.

Indian pharmaceutical companies are set to produce eight, more affordable vaccines designed to fight Covid-19, including AstraZeneca’s Covishield, called the “vaccine for the world” by its developers.

The emergence of new variants in Britain, South Africa and Brazil has created some concern that mutations in the virus may make vaccines less effective.

Moderna said it is looking at whether a booster shot either of its existing vaccine or of a new shot designed to protect against the South African variant could be made available in future if evidence were to emerge that protection declined.

“The virus isn’t going to stand still,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said on a conference call. “While the current strains appear to be well-protected by our Covid-19 … it’s important that we remain vigilant and develop potential tools and countermeasures that would allow us to continue to beat back the pandemic.”

Moderna said it expects its current vaccine will remain protective for at least a year after completing the two-dose course. It does not expect to test a third dose until at least six months after that course is finished.