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Moderna says the new booster increases defense against omicron subvariants


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Vaccine maker Moderna announced Monday that its new omicron-targeted booster injection boosts the main line of immune defense by increasing levels of coronavirus-fighting antibodies that block BA.5. This omicron subvariant predominated in the United States until recently and still accounts for approximately one-third of reported cases.

In a press release, Moderna said the levels of omicron-blocking antibodies in blood from people receiving the bivalent booster were 15 times higher than pre-booster levels. The findings, which have yet to be reviewed, are similar to those presented this month by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on bivalent coronavirus vaccine boosters.

The data are promising because they show that the bivalent booster shots, which have been updated to match the BA.4 and BA.5 versions of the omiron variant and started to be released in September, provide protection against newer coronavirus variants before a possible threat. winter growth of events.

Moderna also said that preliminary analyzes in a small number of subjects showed that antibodies generated by the bivalent booster lost some potency against the difficult and fast-growing BQ.1.1 subvariant, but could still block it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BQ.1.1 accounts for about a quarter of cases in the United States.

“Evolution is a dangerous thing to oppose. The virus continues to surprise us, and we must be ready to update the vaccine,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna. But he added that he was encouraged by high antibody levels, which have been boosted as the country heads into winter.

“I think we’re optimistic that this bivalent of BA.4/BA.5 will be enough to get us through,” Hoge said.

Moderna’s statement will be interesting Scientists are pondering future booster strategies as the makers of both messenger RNA coronavirus vaccines have now presented converging results showing that their bivalent shot elicits a stronger response than their original formulations.

But this news is a somewhat artificial comparison for the general public, as these original amplifiers are no longer available. The decision was taken to ensure sufficient supplies to vaccinate people with updated vaccines in the summer ahead of possible winter events.

Also this it’s unclear whether the data will help spark public interest in boosters. Only about 10 percent of people age 5 and older in the United States According to CDC data, they obtained two valence enhancers.

To measure the effect of the booster shot, the scientists compared the virus-blocking antibodies in the blood of 511 people before and after the bivalent booster or the original. What such laboratory experiments cannot predict is how well or how long high antibody levels will protect people from infections or serious illness. Most scientists expect boosters to help protect against the worst outcomes, but not to provide robust protection against infections.

Moderna reported that its bivalent booster produced five to six times the level of antibodies compared to the older booster. This is a stronger advantage than the effects of the previous bivalent enhancer, which was tuned to combat the BA.1 variant. But some scientists have questioned whether the differences between the two groups of people who received each type of shot may be partly responsible for some of the benefits.

In contrast, Novavax, a latecomer to the vaccine race, reported last week that its bivalent shock enhancer, which includes the omicron BA.1 subvariant, offers no advantage over the original enhancer.

The company did not provide information on the BA.4/BA.5-containing bivalent vaccine, but argued that its initial shot may continue to offer protection rather than renewing the formula. It is not clear why there are different results. Filip Dubovsky, Novavax’s chief medical officer, said last week that the company’s shot could be a broader response to the variants, which is then boosted by re-boosting the old formula. Unlike the widely used messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the Novavax shot is a protein-based vaccine with an added substance called an adjuvant, which is designed to boost the immune system.

Novavax said it may update its shot if required by regulators.

“We are ready to respond to whatever is required,” said Dubovsky. “But we actually think we have a job that looks like what we have now and what we’re working on now is the way to go into the future.”



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