Moderna says third shot of COVID-19 vaccine steels shield against Omicron

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Moderna has announced on Monday that its authorised booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine "can boost neutralizing antibody levels against Omicron 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels," saying the results are "reassuring". It also said a double dose of 100 micrograms would be considerably more effective. Investors were also happy about the report, and Moderna shares opened with large gains.
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Moderna, has today announced preliminary neutralizing antibody data against the Omicron variant following the company’s booster candidates at 50 µg and 100 µg dose levels.

The currently authorized 50 µg booster of mRNA-1273

increased neutralizing antibody levels against Omicron approximately 37-fold compared to pre-boost levels

and a 100 µg dose of mRNA-1273 increased neutralizing antibody levels about 83-fold compared to pre-boost levels.

Moderna shares kicked off today's trading by a 6.3% jump.

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The dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant is concerning to all. However, these data showing that the currently authorized Moderna COVID-19 booster can boost neutralizing antibody levels 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels are reassuring,

said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

“To respond to this highly transmissible variant, Moderna will continue to rapidly advance an Omicron-specific booster candidate into clinical testing in case it becomes necessary in the future. We will also continue to generate and share data across our booster strategies with public health authorities to help them make evidence-based decisions on the best vaccination strategies against SARS-CoV-2,” he added.

Moderna also announced the safety and tolerability data from the Phase 2/3 study of the 100 µg booster dose of mRNA-1273 (N=305). A 100 µg booster dose of mRNA-1273 was "generally safe and well tolerated."

The frequency and nature of solicited systemic and local adverse events 7 days after receiving a booster were generally comparable to those seen after the two-dose primary series. There was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions following the 100 µg booster dose relative to the authorized 50 µg booster dose of mRNA-1273.

Interestingly enough, without a booster, the company’s vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was been found to be far less effective against the fast-spreading omicron variant, generating low neutralizing antibodies.

The data have not yet been peer reviewed.

"Moving forward, given the strength of the mRNA-1273 and the speed at which the Omicron variant is spreading,

Moderna’s first line of defense against Omicron will be a booster dose of mRNA-1273.

"Given the long-term threat demonstrated by Omicron’s immune escape, Moderna will also continue to develop an Omicron-specific variant vaccine (mRNA-1273.529) that it expects to advance into clinical trials in early 2022 and will evaluate including Omicron in its multivalent booster program."

Lockdown measures to stem Omicron spread

The news comes as the World Health Organization warns omicron cases can double every 1.5 to 3 days in areas of local spread.

Austria will only allow entry to vaccinated travelers from Monday.

France has already banned travel from the United Kingdom.

The U.K. has recorded its highest daily case levels since the start of the pandemic last week. Ministers are also refusing to rule out further restrictions over Christmas. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News on Monday that he couldn’t make “hard and fast guarantees” that stricter measures would not be imposed, CNBC reported.

The Netherlands imposed a strict full lockdown on Sunday extending until mid-January 2022. Only supermarkets and essential shops remain open; schools are closed.

In Germany, only German citizens, residents and transit passengers will be allowed to enter the country from the U.K. from Monday. All inbound travelers must go in quarantine for 14 days irrespective of vaccination status. Travel restrictions were also imposed for arrivals from Denmark, Norway and France.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is set to meet regional leaders on Wednesday to discuss containment measures for the coming weeks.

Italian leaders are also reportedly weighing further restrictions and will meet Thursday for talks.

Cover photo: Getty Images

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