Moderna has released promising clinical trial data showing that its new COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response against the highly mutated omicron variant, BA.2.86. This variant sometimes referred to as “Pirola,” has raised concerns about its ability to evade immunity from earlier infections and vaccinations.
Key points regarding Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine and its effectiveness against BA.2.86:
Strong Immune Response: According to Moderna’s clinical trial data, the updated vaccine generated an 8.7-fold increase in protective antibodies against the BA.2.86 variant. This is a positive sign, suggesting that the vaccine can provide protection against this specific variant.
Variant Concerns: BA.2.86 has been closely monitored by health officials due to its significant mutations. While it has the potential to partially evade immunity, the new data suggests that it may be less immune-evasive than initially feared.
First Data Release: Moderna is the first among the companies producing updated COVID-19 vaccines to release data on how its shot performs against BA.2.86. Pfizer and Novavax are also planning to roll out new vaccines targeting different omicron strains, including XBB.1.5.
Broad Protection: Moderna’s trial results indicate that the updated vaccine remains effective against various omicron variants, including EG.5 and FL.1.5.1. This suggests that the vaccine will continue to be a valuable tool for protection as new variants emerge.
Rising Cases and Hospitalizations: The release of updated vaccines comes at a time when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise across the United States, driven by variants like Eris and FL.1.5.1. However, the current metrics are still below the levels seen during previous surges.
BA.2.86 in the U.S.: BA.2.86 has been detected in four U.S. states, but it remains relatively rare and is not listed as a standalone strain on the CDC’s variant tracker.
Moderna’s updated vaccine, along with those from other manufacturers, is expected to play a crucial role in maintaining protection against emerging variants and helping control the spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to evolve.