The Modern Covid-19 vaccine created antibodies that neutralized variants of the coronavirus that were first found in the UK and South Africa, the company said in a press release on Monday.
Two doses of the vaccine are expected to “protect against emerging strains detected to date,” according to the statement.
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The company’s study showed that the variant first found in the UK “had no significant impact” on the effectiveness of the vaccine.
However, the results for the variant first detected in South Africa were not as optimistic, and some initial studies have suggested that vaccines may be somewhat less effective against this strain.
In the press release, Moderna noted that “a six-fold reduction in neutralization titers was observed with (the variant discovered in South Africa) relative to previous variants.”
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The company says it still hopes the vaccine will be effective against the new variants.
“Despite this reduction, the neutralizing titer levels of the vaccine with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels expected to be protective,” according to the press release.
David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center, said that while he is “cautiously optimistic” that Moderna’s vaccine will work well against this strain, he is still not sure.
“The effectiveness could be reduced a bit, but it can still be very effective,” he said. “Hopefully the vaccine will continue to be 70-80% effective.”
The variant first identified in the UK has also appeared in more than 45 other countries, including 195 cases in the US.
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The variant first identified in South Africa has appeared in more than 20 other countries. No cases have been identified in the United States, but experts say there are likely cases and American surveillance, which has been widely criticized, has yet to detect them.
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