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A health workers holds a vial of containing Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A COVID-19 booster shot developed by Moderna showed a promising immune response against variants first identified in Brazil and South Africa, the company said Wednesday, citing preliminary data.

Why it matters: The variants, which have spread to other countries including the U.S., risk prolonging the pandemic.

The big picture: The subjects in the study received a booster shot six to eight months after their second dose of the vaccine. The immune system responses were measured 15 days later and showed increased neutralizing antibody responses against the two variants, interim data from Moderna's Phase 2 clinical trials showed.

  • Moderna also noted that the booster doses were "generally well tolerated."
  • The company said it is also testing a strain-matched booster, which resulted in an even better immune response to the variant first identified in South Africa.

Of note: The findings announced Wednesday are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed.

  • The clinical trials are ongoing and more data will be available soon, according to Moderna.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
May 5, 2021 - World

U.S. could fill "vaccine diplomacy" void as other powers struggle

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The U.S. is the last major power to enter the race for global vaccine diplomacy, but still has the opportunity to win it.

Why it matters: China, Russia and other world powers began shipping vaccines all over the world months before the U.S. But they've all run into serious obstacles that leave the U.S. with an opening to become the biggest piece in the global vaccination puzzle.

May 5, 2021 - Health

Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet

Data: CDC, Our World in Data; Note: New Hampshire not including due to conflicting data from source; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Biden's latest vaccination goal — 70% of adults receiving one shot by July 4 — will be much harder to reach than his previous ones. And if the U.S. gets there, it will likely be driven by blue states.

Between the lines: The U.S. has already inoculated most of its vaccine-enthusiastic population. States are already beginning to see wide disparities in vaccination rates, largely along political lines.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
May 5, 2021 - Health

Pfizer posts crazy good quarter with major assist from COVID vaccines

Pfizer vaccine bottles are pictured at a COVID-19 vaccine administration center on May 4 in Italy. That same day, Pfizer reported a 42% year over year increase in revenue, a jump driven largely by the vaccine. Photo: by Donato Fasano/Getty Images

Pfizer reported a super strong first quarter, saying it now expects about $26 billion in sales for its COVID-19 vaccine this year. That's up from an earlier projection of about $15 billion.

The big picture: That anticipated windfall comes as the Biden administration announced more ambitious U.S. vaccine goals and the world scrambles to get access to shots.