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Of note: The findings announced Wednesday are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed.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

Oct 1, 2021 - Health

Before Merck backed COVID antiviral, Trump admin turned it down

Photo illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Trump administration officials fought over whether — and ultimately declined — to fund the same antiviral drug that Merck announced yesterday significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths among coronavirus patients.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's decision almost certainly delayed the development of the drug. Having an effective antiviral pill during the Delta wave could have substantially reduced its death toll.

Oct 2, 2021 - Health

U.S. hits 700,000 COVID deaths

People walk through "In America: Remember," a public art installation commemorating all of the Americans who have died due to COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

The U.S. surpassed 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: A summer of division over vaccine and masking mandates only added to the surge in cases caused by the Delta variant. The U.S. went from 600,000 deaths to 700,000 in the span of three-and-a-half months.

Newsom orders COVID-19 vaccine mandate for California students

Students attending school in L.A. Unified School District. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Friday that all eligible public and private school students will be mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, once it has been given final approval from the FDA.

Why it matters: This is the first K-12 COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Los Angeles Times reports.