Washington: Moderna Inc on Monday said that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be protective against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of coronavirus.
It also announced that the current version of the vaccine would continue to be Moderna's "first line of defense against Omicron."
The currently authorised 50-microgram booster of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 increased neutralising antibody levels against Omicron about 37-fold compared to pre-boost levels, the company said in a statement Monday. The company also tested a 100 microgram dose, which increased antibody levels 83-fold compared with the primary two-dose course.
The vaccine maker said the decision to focus on the current vaccine, mRNA-1273, was driven in part by how quickly the recently discovered variant is spreading.
The company also said that it is planning to develop a vaccine specifically to protect against Omicron, which it hopes to advance into clinical trials early next year.
The data are "reassuring.' To respond to this highly transmissible variant, Moderna will continue to rapidly advance an omicron-specific booster candidate into clinical testing in case it becomes necessary in the future, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in a statement. "
The Omicron variant, which is possibly more contagious than the Delta variant, had been found in at least 47 US states as of Sunday, since the first case in the country was detected in California on December 1.