The Moderna company says it will begin clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine that would target the B1351 variant first detected in South Africa.
Moderna previously reported that its original two-dose vaccine – already approved for use in Canada – appears to offer protection against the B117 variant first detected in the UK, as well as the B1351 variant, although its own research suggests that it might be less effective against the latter.
The company announced that it will study the B1351 variant specific vaccine both as a potential booster for the coronavirus vaccine as a stand-alone vaccine for people who have not yet received a vaccine.
“As we seek to defeat COVID-19, we must be vigilant and proactive as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge“, Said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna in a press release.
“By taking advantage of the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are rapidly testing vaccine updates that address emerging variants of the virus in the clinic.”, he added.
Moderna had explained last month that his vaccine was essentially as effective against the British variant as against the previous variants. However, the company had found that there was a reduction in its neutralization capability against the South African variant.
South Africa has suspended its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after data from a small trial suggested the vaccine did not protect against mild to moderate disease of the now dominant variant in the country.
Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax have all reviewed the performance of their South African variant vaccines.