In a press release, the pharmaceutical company Moderna claims its vaccine maintains its neutralizing ability against both the English and South African variants of the coronavirus. Additionally, the company is also currently working on a new formulation specifically aimed at the South African variant of COVID-19.
The vaccination campaign will be effective against the 2 new variants, which are spreading rapidly in several countries. In a press release issued, Jan. 25, 2021, Moderna states that in vitro neutralization tests were performed on serum from previously vaccinated individuals. The Serological antibodies were exposed to the currently most circulating variants of coronavirus, the English variant of the B.1.1.7 lineage and the South African variant of the B.1.351 lineage, to be sure of their effectiveness.
All current variants neutralized
The neutralizing capacity of the vaccine antibodies is identical for the B.1.1.7 strain variant and for the other variants against which the vaccine has been tested in clinical trials. In contrast, the antibody-neutralizing capacity of the B.1.351 lineage variant is six times lower than that of the other variants. The pharmaceutical company seeks to reassure the public by stating in its press release that despite this decline, “neutralizing titers with B.1.351 are still above levels that should be protective.
The scientific results of these tests and the detailed protocol were not reported at the time this article was published. They were performed on serum from eight patients who had received the two doses of vaccine in phase 1 clinical trials and on serum from nonhuman primates immunized with two doses of the vaccine at concentrations of 30 or 100 µg. The results will be published in bioRxiv before appearing in a peer-reviewed journal.
Moderna also announced that it is working on a new formulation of its mRNA-1273 vaccine, called mRNA1273.351, designed to combat the South African variant of coronavirus. The formulation is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials in the United States. It would be injected in addition to the normal protocol to increase the production of neutralizing antibodies against a particular variant.