'New coronavirus variants are coming', warn scientists behind Moderna's Covid vaccine

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Bharat SharmaUpdated: May 30, 2021, 03:03 PM IST
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Moderna and Pfizer are the vaccines with highest rates of protection against Covid among its recipients. But the efficacy could drop as mutations surface globally

Scientists across the world have expressed concern over COVID-19 developing lethal mutations which could bypass the protection offered by current vaccines.  Recently, more infectious variants first reported in the United Kingdom and India have stirred a wave of fear worldwide. A highly mutated strain has higher chances of crossing the threshold of protection offered by vaccines.

Now, Moderna officials have warned against new variants sprouting up globally. During a virtual investor event on Thursday, scientists and executives carved out plans to combat new strains.

“As the virus spreads, it is rapidly mutating,” the company’s chief scientific officer, Melissa Moore, was quoted as saying by Barron’s.

“Some of these new viral strains appear to be even more transmissible than the original strain… We already know that some of these new strains are less susceptible to neutralization by our current vaccine”, Moore added.

Even then, company representatives claimed that they’re constantly undertaking testing of new variants and vaccines to keep up with mutants, while shedding light on the complexity of the process.

“New viral variants are coming, emerging constantly in real time” Guillaume Stewat-Jones, a scientist at Moderna was cited as saying by Barron’s.

Moderna and Pfizer have the highest rates of protection against Covid among its recipients. But the efficacy could drop as mutations surface globally. A recent UK study shed light on how effective current vaccines are against the more infectious strains detected globally.

The study undertaken by Public Health England found that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s efficacy dropped to 88 per cent two weeks after the second dose against symptomatic disease from the variant first found in India. Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (also known as Covishield) provided 60 per cent protection against the  B.1.617.2 variant while offering 66 per cent protection against the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first found in UK.

Both Pfizer and Moderna claim to have efficacy rates over 90 per cent against COVID-19.