Moderna: “Vaccine works against variants, but less well against South African”

The vaccine maker Moderna says its vaccine works against the already established corona variants in the UK and South Africa, but as a precaution it is still making an alternative version against the South African variant. The antibodies detect them a little less well.

The company issued a press release on Monday, which is a bit confusing at first. The current vaccine works against all variants, yet the company makes a so-called “booster” for the South African mutation. “We don’t know if we will need it, but we do this to be on the safe side,” says CEO Stéphane Bancel. He points out that the virus can evolve even further and wants to anticipate the possible consequences.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of concern about the variants of the corona virus, which are spreading rapidly around the world. Outbreaks of both the British and South African variants have already occurred in Belgium. On top of that, initial results from independent research showed that the vaccines may not protect against them.


That turns out to be better than expected, at least according to Moderna. Both Moderna and Pfizer have already announced that they can adapt their vaccine to a new variant within six weeks. That’s because the mRNA technology they use uses genetic material rather than the virus itself. This can be manipulated more quickly than if the virus still has to be fully grown in a lab environment.

Moderna is now embarking on a Phase 1 trial to test the modified version. It is not yet known when all clinical studies will be completed.


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