Health, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Moderna says vaccine effective in two COVID-19 variants

Firm reveals its vaccine could be less effective against strain found in South Africa, B.1.351

Ovunc Kutlu   | 25.01.2021
Moderna says vaccine effective in two COVID-19 variants


US pharmaceutical company Moderna announced Monday its COVID-19 vaccine shows effectiveness against two emerging variants of COVID-19. 

"Vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine produced neutralizing titers against all key emerging variants tested, including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, first identified in the UK and Republic of South Africa, respectively," it said in a statement.

The firm said its coronavirus vaccine appears to work against the strain found in the UK, B.1.1.7, however it could be less effective against the strain in South Africa, B.1.351.

CEO Stephane Bancel said in the statement the company is advancing its studies for the coronavirus variant in South Africa to determine whether its vaccine would be more effective against it and potentially future variants.

Moderna, after the announcement, saw its stock price soar 12.5% on Nasdaq to $147.4 per share after closing Friday at $131.02 a share. The company is expected to make $13.2 billion from vaccine sales in 2021, according to a Morgan Stanley report on Dec. 14.

The firm announced on Nov. 30 that its vaccine efficacy against the novel coronavirus is 94.1% after the Phase 3 clinical trial conducted on 196 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The US' leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, said Thursday the current vaccines on the market may not be as effective in protecting against the new and more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

"We’re following very carefully the one in South Africa, which is a little bit more concerning ... We’re paying very close attention to it. There are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine," he said.

California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica S. Pan issued a statement on Jan. 17 recommending providers to pause the administration of a certain lot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine due to "possible allergic reactions that are under investigation."

"Fewer than 10 individuals required medical attention over the span of 24 hours," she said.

The US, the worst-hit country by COVID-19, has registered 25.1 million cases and nearly 420,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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