Moderna said Tuesday that a new lab study shows its COVID-19 vaccine should provide protection against emerging mutations of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, including the highly contagious Delta variant that has health officials on edge.
In vitro neutralization studies of blood obtained from eight people one week after they were vaccinated with their second dose of Moderna’s vaccine, mRNA-1273, show the product provoked an antibody response against all the virus variants tested, the company said in a release.
“Vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested, including additional versions of the Beta variant (B.1.351, first identified in South Africa), three lineage variants of B.1.617 (first identified in India), including the Kappa (B.1.617.1) and the Delta variants (B.1.617.2); the Eta variant (B.1.525, first identified in Nigeria); and the A.23.1 and A.VOI.V2 variants first identified in Uganda and Angola, respectively,” Moderna said.
Moderna said its vaccine was essentially as effective against the Alpha and A.23.1 variants as it was against the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China. At the same time, Moderna’s vaccine provoked an antibody response against the other variants that was weaker compared to the ancestral strain.
“This analysis also showed a modest reduction in neutralizing titers against the Delta (2.1-fold), Gamma (P.1, 3.2-fold), Kappa (3.3-3.4-fold), and Eta (4.2-fold) variants relative to those against the ancestral strain,” Moderna said, noting also a 7.3 or 8.4-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies against additional versions of the Beta variant, and an 8.0-fold reduction against A.VOI.V2, relative to the Wuhan strain.
“These new data are encouraging and reinforce our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
Moderna said it had submitted the data from the lab study as a preprint to bioRxiv.
It follows a recent study suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines—as well as the one produced by AstraZeneca—are broadly effective against the highly contagious Delta and Kappa strains of the virus.
The Delta variant has been designated a variant of concern in the UK, while infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci recently called it “the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.”