Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine less effective against South African variant
Monday, 25 January 2021
While Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is also effective against the UK and the South African coronavirus variants, its effectiveness is lower against the South African one, according to the company.
The US pharmaceutical company reported that, in case of infection with the South African variant, the number of antibodies decreased sixfold. However, the body still produces “enough antibodies to be protected,” according to Moderna.
“Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO.
According to microbiologist Bruno Verhasselt (UGent) – who is looking into the outbreak of the South African variant in Ostend – the antibodies have a harder time detecting the variant.
“That is bad news, but not yet a tragedy,” he told VRT. “The immune system is more than just antibodies. There are also immune cells that can recognise the virus.”
More field research is needed to investigate the exact consequences for the vaccines, according to Verhasselt, adding that existing vaccines can be quickly adapted to these new variants, should it be necessary.
“One can quickly generate other compositions that can be injected within the month,” he said. “We can adapt well and quickly and that is good news.”