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

Experts fear new variants of COVID-19 from South Africa and Brazil may be resistant to existing vaccines and treatment.

It comes as a separate UK-based study found the Pfizer vaccine produces an "off the scale" immune response that is likely to protect against the Brazilian variant of Covid-19, with scientists in the United Kingdom reporting strong immune responses in older people who had received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine. The ongoing research found the vaccine was 91.3% efficacious against the disease a half year after a second dose was administered.

The National Institutes of Health launched a new clinical trial on Wednesday to evaluate a new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that is created to protect against the B.1.351 variant.

"Total 12,76,191 vaccine doses were given till 8 pm on Friday, the 77th day of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination, the ministry said, adding that 12,40,764 received the first dose while 35,427 beneficiaries got the second dose as per the provisional report and final numbers will be compiled by by late night.

This booster experiment will reveal (1) if strain-adapted vaccines boost immunity & (2) whether they are safe", Haydon, a communications specialist at the University of Washington, said via Twitter last Saturday.

Since that initial analysis, more COVID-19 cases have accrued, increasing to 927 as of March 13 from the previous 170. "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".

Dutch stop giving AstraZeneca vaccine to under-60s pending review
The European Medicines Agency is expected to update its recommendation on this issue on April 7. Benefits of vaccination against Covid-19 continue to outweigh any risks.

The updated trial data would not prompt the company to change that development strategy, a BioNTech spokeswoman said.

They said that corresponded to an efficacy rate of 91.3 percent in preventing symptomatic cases "measured seven days through up to six months after the second dose". The trial is enrolling 210 participants in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Nashville and Seattle, including 60 people who previously received the current Moderna vaccine.

'The vaccine elicits such high levels of antibodies that even when confronted with a variant. there's still meaningful protection, ' Hensley told CNN.

"The antibody levels were so high that they'd gone above the thresholds so they had to dilute them".

More doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available after the FDA revised how many doses could be available per vial, up to 50% more. The approach has been tested against other viruses and studies in animals and people show they stimulate a strong and broad immune response.

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