Moderna said on Wednesday, 24, that it had completed the initial batch of doses of a new vaccine against covid-19 designed to better protect against the new South African variant of the coronavirus, which showed some resistance to the company’s original immunizer. The company said it sent the new vaccines to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct the first human study, which could begin in weeks.
The new vaccine was designed to better match the variant of the virus that was first identified in South Africa, but has since spread to other places. Moderna may be the first manufacturer to complete laboratory work to design a vaccine targeting variants, which began to spread rapidly last year.
Other companies, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, said they are improving their immunizers or working on boosters that match the variants better. Older vaccines do not seem to work as well against the strain identified in South Africa, and new variants may also emerge.
People who previously received two doses of Moderna’s original vaccine will receive the new injection, and researchers will track the safety of the immunizer and its ability to induce an immune response to the new variant. If the test results are positive, Moderna will seek US regulatory authorization for the new vaccine, which could happen in the third quarter, CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview. “Moderna will continue to pursue these variants until the pandemic is fully under control,” said Bancel.
After the announcement, Moderna’s shares rose in the New York futures markets, and at 7:44 pm (Brasília time) they were up 5.32%.