NIH Testing Moderna Vaccine Against S. African Variant

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 doses are prepared at a vaccine outreach clinic at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kalamazoo Michigan on Tuesday

The shot was also 100 per cent effective in preventing illness among trial participants in South Africa, where a new variant called B1351 is dominant.

"Our findings extend those from smaller studies reported elsewhere and support a potential strategy of providing a single dose of vaccine to persons with a confirmed prior history of coronavirus infection, along with two doses for people not previously infected", said Susan Cheng, Associate professor at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in California, US.

"However, out of an abundance of caution, [the trial will] evaluate this variant vaccine candidate should there be a need for an updated vaccine", he said.

"These data confirm the favorable efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine and position us to submit a Biologics License Application to the U.S. FDA", said Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer.

The results follow separate data that showed the vaccine is safe and effective in 12- to 15-year olds, paving the way for the drugmakers to seek USA and European approvals for this group. With those data, Pfizer secured an FDA emergency use authorization in December.

Pfizer has been studying the vaccine in more than 46,000 volunteers and has noted 927 cases of confirmed Covid-19.

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'In South Africa, where the B.1.351 lineage is prevalent and 800 participants were enrolled, nine cases of COVID-19 were observed, all in the placebo group, indicating vaccine efficacy of 100%,' the company said.

"These data also provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against now circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population", Sahin said in a statement Thursday. The approach has been tested against other viruses and studies in animals and people show they stimulate a strong and broad immune response.

The antibody response in these people remained 28-fold higher even after the second vaccine dose.

"A year ago I tried the Moderna vaccine to see if it was safe". And the combination of having very high levels of antibodies and persistent levels of protection are the recipe for a very long level of protection against these variants, ' Hensley added.

The vaccine is now authorized on an emergency basis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The companies also studied a subset of teens to measure the level of virus-neutralizing antibodies a month after the second dose and found it was comparable to study participants aged 16 to 25 in the pivotal trial in adults.

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