Moderna says booster dose appears protective against Omicron

iStock [illustration]

Moderna Inc said on Monday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be protective against the new variant in laboratory testing and that the vaccine would continue to be Moderna's "first line of defense against Omicron".

The vaccine maker said the decision to focus on the current vaccine, mRNA-1273, was driven in part by how quickly the recently discovered variant is spreading. The company still plans to develop a vaccine specifically to protect against Omicron, which it hopes to advance into clinical trials early next year.

"What we have available right now is 1273," Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna's Chief Medical Officer, said in an interview. "It's highly effective, and it's extremely safe. I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months, when we're going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron."

The company said a two-dose course of its vaccine generated low neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, but a 50 microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant 37 fold. A higher, 100 microgram booster dose of the same vaccine drove antibody levels even higher - more than 80 times pre-boost levels.

The data, which has not yet been peer reviewed, tested blood from people who had received the vaccine against a pseudovirus engineered to resemble the Omicron variant. It is similar to data discussed last by top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.

Burton said it would be up to governments and regulators to gauge whether they want the enhanced level of protection that a 100 microgram dose might confer.

The company said that the 100 microgram dose was generally safe and well-tolerated, although there was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions.

Moderna also tested the vaccine's effectiveness compared to its prototype boosters that target multiple previous variants of concern, and said the results were similar.

US regulators authorised the 50 microgram booster of Moderna's vaccine in October. The first two shots of Moderna's vaccine are both 100 micrograms.

Both the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have been linked to rare cases of heart inflammation, particularly in young men. Several studies have suggested that Moderna's vaccine is likely to cause heart inflammation at a higher rate.

Omicron, a highly contagious variant first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, has raced around the globe and been reported in 89 countries, the World Health Organisation said on Saturday.

It said the number of Omicron cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, but noted that much remains unknown about the variant, including the severity of the illness it causes. 

More from International

  • German police shoot axe-wielding man at Euro 2024 parade

    German police fired shots at a person who threatened officers with a pickaxe and an incendiary device on the sidelines of a Euro 2024 fan parade in central Hamburg, according to a police post on social media platform X.

  • Hamas Gaza ceasefire proposal reply 'consistent' with US plan

    Hamas' response to the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal is consistent with the principles put forward in US President Joe Biden's plan, the group's Qatar-based leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech on the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Adha.

  • Israel announces tactical pause to allow Gaza aid

    The Israeli military said it would hold daily tactical pauses in military activity in parts of southern Gaza to allow more aid to flow into the enclave, where international aid organisations have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis.

  • US VP Harris announces $1.5 billion Ukraine aid

    US Vice President Kamala Harris pledged America's unwavering support for Ukraine and announced more than $1.5 billion (AED 5.5 billion) in aid for the country's energy sector and its humanitarian situation as a result of Russia's 27-month invasion.

  • Ukraine summit strives for consensus to lean on Russia to end conflict

    Western powers and countries from the rest of the world will use the second day of a major summit in Switzerland to pursue a consensus on condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and underscoring concerns about the conflict's human cost.

Coming Up on Dubai Eye

  • The Agenda

    10:00am - 1:00pm

    Broadcasting every weekday, Georgia Tolley goes beyond the headlines to speak to government ministers, decision makers, analysts and local experts to find out how the news will impact those of us living in the UAE.

  • Entertainment Extra

    1:00pm - 2:00pm

BUSINESS BREAKFAST LATEST

On Dubai Eye

  • Flying Taxis

    It sounds like an episode of The Jetsons, but the sight of flying taxis whizzing around our cities could be much closer than you think.

  • Tough penalties for deliberate tax evasion

    The UAE has said that tougher penalties will come into force from 1st August for not keeping proper corporate tax records.