New Moderna Vaccine to Work Against Recent COVID Variant

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Sept. 6, 2023 -- Moderna says its upcoming COVID-19 vaccine should work against the BA.2.86 variant that has caused worry about a possible surge in cases.

“The company said its shot generated an 8.7-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies in humans against BA.2.86, which is being tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Reuters reported.

“We think this is news people will want to hear as they prepare to go out and get their fall boosters,” Jacqueline Miller, Moderna head of infectious diseases, told the news agency.

The CDC said that the BA.2.86 variant might be more likely to infect people who have already had COVID or previous vaccinations. BA.2.86 is an Omicron variant. It has undergone more mutations than XBB.1.5, which has dominated most of this year and was the intended target of the updated shots.

BA.2.86 does not have a strong presence in the United States yet. However, officials are concerned about its high number of mutations, NBC News reported.

The FDA is expected to approve the new Moderna shot by early October.

Pfizer told NBC that its updated booster also generated a strong antibody response against Omicron variants, including BA.2.86.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been increasing in the U.S. due to the rise of several variants. 

Experts told Reuters that BA.2.86 probably won’t cause a wave of severe disease and death because immunity has been built up around the world through previous infections and mass vaccinations.