Moderna COVID vaccine for South Africa variant ready for testing: Company

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 25, 2021, 10:30 AM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

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While initial testing has shown that Moderna's original vaccine -- called mRNA-1273 -- remains effective against emerging variants, the company said it was pursuing the development of a variant-specific vaccine as part of a number of strategies being considered

US firm Moderna said on Wednesday that its new vaccine that targets South African variant of coronavirus is ready for testing. The company said that the doses have been shipped to US National Institutes of Health for testing. South African strain of coronavirus is considered to be more dangerous as it believed to hinder the action of antibodies that target the older strain of the virus.

This means that patients who were infected by the virus before may get the infection again. The South African variant has also resulted in reducing the protection provided by the current generation of vaccines.

While initial testing has shown that Moderna's original vaccine -- called mRNA-1273 -- remains effective against emerging variants, the company said it was pursuing the development of a variant-specific vaccine as part of a number of strategies being considered.

Either a South Africa variant-specific candidate, called mRNA-1273.351, could be used as a booster, or the company might use a booster that combines the classic vaccine with the variant-specific mRNA-1273.351 to create a new product.

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Another idea is that people could receive a third dose of the classic vaccine to raise their overall immunity.

Moderna is also looking at the possibility of using the South Africa variant-specific mRNA-1273.351 or the combination shot as the primary dose.

The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) announced on Monday that companies developing variant-specific vaccines will not have to go through the same long authorisation process they had to for approval of their original shots.

Moderna also announced it was raising its global manufacturing capacity and would be able to produce up to 1.4 billion doses of its vaccine in 2022 if needed.

Additionally, it said it was increasing its plan for 2021 manufacturing from 600 million doses to 700 million doses globally. Moderna has so far shipped 60 million doses, 55 million within the US.

(With AFP inputs)

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