Moderna says Omicron-specific booster should be ready by August | Health

Cara Murez

THURSDAY, June 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Moderna Inc. announced Wednesday that the revamped COVID booster shot it’s developing to combat Omicron and its subvariants should be ready for public use by August.

The company has snapped footage of the vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273.214, ahead of receiving regulatory approval so it’s ready to ship fall and winter doses when health experts fear there could be another wave of COVID-19 .

“Given the continued evolution of SARS-CoV-2, we are very encouraged that mRNA-1273.214, our lead fall booster candidate, has demonstrated high neutralizing titers against BA.4 and BA.5 [Omicron] Subvariants that pose an emerging threat to global public health,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a company press release.

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“We will urgently submit this data to regulators and prepare to deliver our next generation bivalent [targeted to two variants] Booster vaccination from August, ahead of a possible surge in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to Omicron subvariants in early autumn,” Bancel added.

Subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 already account for 35% of all reported infections in the United States, up from 23% a week ago, the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

The vaccine targets both Omicron and the original strain of the virus, unlike the first vaccine which only targeted the original strain. In the latest data Moderna released Wednesday, the updated injection increased antibodies against the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants by 5.4-fold over baseline in all participants, regardless of prior infection, and by 6.3-fold in the subgroup of participants who had no detectable COVID antibodies in their blood before vaccination.

“We’d really like to be ready for the fall season later this year,” Lavina Talukdar, Moderna’s head of investor relations, said at a Goldman Sachs health conference last week. CBS News reported. “In the northern hemisphere, we believe that just because we spend more time indoors, susceptibility to infection will rise higher.”

The product could be ready to ship “late August, early September, October,” Talukdar said at the time.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines.

SOURCE: Moderna, press release, June 22, 2022; CBS News

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