Moderna Results announced on Wednesday We call the latest coronavirus vaccine targeting the Omicron mutant “our lead candidate” that acts as a booster shot in the fall.
The company’s researchers tested booster doses that combined the original vaccine with a vaccine that specifically targeted the mutant Omicron, which prevailed last winter. They found that this combination produced 1.75 times more neutralizing antibodies to Omicron than the existing Moderna vaccine alone.
While these results seem encouraging to their faces, many experts are worried that the virus is evolving so fast that it outperforms its ability to change vaccines.
Moderna’s new findings from a clinical trial of 437 volunteers show that one month after being given a booster shot, the updated vaccine has a significantly stronger immune response to Omicron than existing vaccines. It shows that it has been brought.
However, Omicron has been producing subvariants for months. Some vaccine experts say it is important how well the new booster formulation can protect against the latest subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, not Omicron itself. These two submutants, first detected in South Africa earlier this year, now account for 13% of new cases in the United States and are expanding rapidly.According to some estimates, within a month they will The other two Omicron subvariants BA.2 When BA.2.12.1Currently dominant.
Moderna did not release data on how the updated vaccine worked against BA.4 or BA.5. The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Burton, said the company is still collecting it. Also, the researchers cannot yet say whether the reconstituted vaccine provides more lasting protection than existing ones.
The latest subvariants appear to spread even faster than previous versions of Omicron and may be better at dodging immune system defenses. It is unclear if they cause more serious illness. In an interview on Tuesday, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony S. Forch said in an interview on Tuesday that South Africa, where BA.4 and BA.5 are widespread, said: The dead remain really stable and low. “
In any case, given the speed of virus mutation, it makes sense for some vaccine experts to target the latest version rather than the form of the virus that has already been or will soon be overtaken. Some say it’s true.
The problem is that Moderna and Pfizer, other major US corona virus vaccine makers, have conducted more human clinical trials by the fall, hoping that the Biden administration will be able to provide the latest vaccines, and still shot. There is not enough time to manufacture. Vaccines to counter what public health experts predict will be a surge in winter.
As a result, regulators may be forced to choose the latest vaccines based on data from laboratory tests and tests in mice and other animals rather than strong human tests. .. By the fall, new variants or subvariants of concern may emerge.
The Food and Drug Administration’s external advisor Scheduled to meet on June 28th Discuss which vaccines are most effective as fall boosters. Vaccine makers say they need to start production immediately.
“Of course, the final decision is always left to the FDA,” said Dr. Fauci. “But what the FDA is likely to do is keep burning as much iron as possible, and they return to an alternative path of decision, laboratory data and possible animal data. You may need to. “
Asked if Americans would accept laboratory results and animal-based booster formulations instead of human testing, he said, “People who are really very worried about protecting themselves will do so. “said.
The renewed vaccine may prove to be slightly less effective against BA.4 and BA.5, but Dr. Burton said he didn’t expect a significant difference from Omicron’s results, saying, “Omicron’s. Submutants seem to behave quite the same, “he added.
“This is a kind of fundamental turning point in the fight against this virus, and I really feel that it can adapt to variants,” he said. “I can do it.”
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are also testing Omicron-specific vaccines and will announce the results shortly. In April, Moderna released preliminary results on a vaccine that was first detected in late 2020 and modified to attack beta variants. However, officials said they hoped that the Omicron-specific vaccine would be a better candidate.