Moderna Inc. announced Wednesday that the revamped COVID booster shot it has developed to fight Omicron and its subvariants should be ready for public use by August.
The company has been making shots of the vaccine, called mRNA-1273.214, before getting regulatory approval so it can be ready to ship doses out for the fall and winter, when health experts worry that there could be another wave of COVID-19.
“In the face of SARS-CoV-2's continued evolution, we are very encouraged that mRNA-1273.214, our lead booster candidate for the fall, has shown high neutralizing titers against the BA.4 and BA.5 [Omicron] subvariants, which represent an emergent threat to global public health,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a company news release.
"We will submit these data to regulators urgently and are preparing to supply our next generation bivalent [targeted to two variants] booster starting in August, ahead of a potential rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to Omicron subvariants in the early fall," Bancel added.
Already, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants account for 35% of all reported infections in the United States, up from 23% a week ago, the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
The vaccine is targets both Omicron and the original strain of the virus, unlike the first vaccine which just targeted the original strain. In the latest data that Moderna released on Wednesday, the updated shot boosted antibodies against the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants by 5.4-fold above baseline in all participants regardless of prior infection, and by 6.3-fold in the subset of participants who had no detectable COVID antibodies in their blood before getting their shot.
“We'd really like to be ready for the fall season later this year,” Lavina Talukdar, head of investor relations at Moderna, said at a Goldman Sachs health care conference last week, CBS News reported. “In the Northern hemisphere, that's when we think that susceptibility to infections is going to go up higher just because we'll spend more time indoors.”
The product could be ready to ship “toward the end of August, early September, October-ish time frame,” Talukdar said at the time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines.
SOURCE: Moderna, news release, June 22, 2022; CBS News