Moderna seeking FDA authorization of omicron-specific booster shot

The Washington Post

06-08-2022

But the omicron variant has mutated so quickly that several new subvariants have emerged that are even better at evading the immune system’s defenses. Even if the updated booster provides less protection against later omicron subvariants than against BA.1, it will probably still be more effective against them than the company’s existing booster, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said. AdvertisementSoon after the omicron variant was identified in South Africa late last year, Moderna said it was developing shots specifically designed to fight the variant. Pfizer and BioNTech announced the same plan, although they have not yet released data on their updated vaccine. Globally, new coronavirus cases are still declining after the omicron variant triggered tens of millions of new cases worldwide, driving up infections during the winter.

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Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday. COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. They’re still providing strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death even after the appearance of the super-contagious omicron variant ― especially if people have had a booster dose. A health worker draws the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic. Moderna has been testing an experimental vaccine that combines Moderna's original shot with protection against the omicron variant.

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Analysis: Booster targeting makes sense, but leaves the economy exposedIt's a marked contrast to the booster rollout of last autumn, when it was offered in stages to all adults. Well, for a start, it makes clinical sense to target those most at risk. Even now, fewer than half of all people under 40 have had the booster rolled out last autumn. So while giving the booster to the vulnerable makes sense to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed, it still leaves the economy exposed. And that could be repeated if an even more infectious version – or a whole new variant - takes hold in the UK.

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Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday. COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. Moderna's preliminary study results show people given the combination shot experienced an eight-fold increase in virus-fighting antibodies capable of targeting the omicron mutant, the company announced. They’re still providing strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death even after the appearance of the super-contagious omicron variant — especially if people have had a booster dose. Key questions: How to make that change without losing the continued strong protection against COVID-19’s worst outcomes?

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The omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The spread of omicron and its subvariants has been ferocious. Within weeks, that version of the virus — now referred to as BA.1.1 — had overtaken the delta variant as the dominant strain. Since then, more transmissible omicron subvariants have emerged and subsequently taken hold: The current dominant strain is BA.2.21.1, which pushed out BA.2, which pushed out BA.1.1. None of the omicron subvariants have been found to cause more severe disease than the original omicron strain.