Apr 19, 2022 - Health

Moderna says updated vaccine may offer better protection against variants

A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is prepared at a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site at the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center in Bostons Dorchester on April 5, 2022.

A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood on April 5. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Moderna announced Tuesday that preliminary study results show an updated COVID booster shot designed to target the Beta variant also offers better protection against newer variants.

Driving the news: The company said it hopes to offer the updated "bivalent booster," which combines the original vaccine with an updated version, in the fall.

  • Moderna said the bivalent vaccine provided protection against the Delta and Omicron variants even though they were not specifically targeted, according to a press release announcing the study results, which have not yet been reviewed by outside scientists.
  • "We believe that a bivalent booster vaccine, if authorized, would create a new tool as we continue to respond to emerging variants," Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, said in a statement.
  • Volunteers who got a booster shot of the bivalent vaccine generated more than two times the level of antibodies against the Omicron variant compared with those who got a booster dose of the existing vaccine, the company said.

Between the lines: Mutations of the Beta variant "have been persistent in more recent variants of concern including Omicron," which is why it was relevant to test, per the researchers.

The big picture: The preliminary study results come as health officials are eyeing a long-term strategy for COVID vaccinations, addressing the risk of new variants and the need for new boosters, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim reports.

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