Story at a glance

  • Moderna released a glimpse of clinical trial data for its booster vaccine candidate.
  • The vaccine was tested against the variants B.1.351 and P.1.
  • Side effects were generally mild and similar to those of the original vaccine.

News from Moderna shows promising data from clinical trials of the company’s booster vaccine developed specifically to fight off variants of COVID-19 that have emerged in the last several months.

In a press release, the company stated that Phase 2 clinical data suggests that a single 50 microgram dose administered to previously vaccinated patients increased the volume of neutralizing antibodies present in the volunteers. 

The two variants of concern that the booster shot is designed to target are B.1.351 and P.1 — the South African and Brazilian variants, respectively. 

When comparing it against the initial Moderna vaccine, the booster shot was more successful in generating antibodies against the South African variant in particular. 

Still, a booster shot of the original Moderna vaccine proved to be effective in cultivating antibodies. 


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“As we seek to defeat the ongoing pandemic, we remain committed to being proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that our booster strategy should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “The strong and rapid boost in titers to levels above primary vaccination also clearly demonstrates the ability of mRNA-1273 to induce immune memory.”

Bancel further explained that the platform Moderna’s vaccine is built on — mRNA technology — lets scientists adjust the genetic code in a vaccine that helps the body learn how to produce antibodies to fight off a specific virus. 

Eventually, Moderna wants to combine the booster shot with the original vaccine to eliminate the extra shot. 

Booster vaccines were given to participants about six to eight months after their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Side effects reported during clinical trials were described as being either “mild or moderate in severity,” noting that booster shots were “generally well tolerated.” 

The most common side effect was pain at the injection site, along with symptoms of fatigue and headache.

This news comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report saying the circulation of contagious COVID-19 mutations poses a renewed threat of new infections despite widespread vaccinations. 

The variant mentioned in the CDC report is B.1.1.7, the U.K. variant, which is not addressed by Moderna’s booster data. 


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Published on May 05, 2021