Modern: Omicron-Specific Coronavirus Booster Shot Generates Strong Response to BA.4, BA.5 | HealthNews

Moderna on Wednesday announced that its booster shot designed to target the omicron variant as well as the original coronavirus strain demonstrates a strong immune response against a pair of omicron subvariants that are quickly spreading across the US

The shot generated more than a fivefold increase above baseline levels in antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 one month after it was administered, according to the company.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company was encouraged that the shot shows “high neutralizing titers against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which represent an emerging threat to global public health.”

“We will submit these data to regulators urgently and are preparing to supply our next generation bivalent booster starting in August, ahead of a potential rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to omicron subvariants in the early fall,” Bancel said in a statement .

Moderna announced earlier this month that its updated shot generates a “superior” response against the omicron variant. It said that the data means the new shot will be its “lead candidate” for a fall 2022 booster shot.

Wednesday’s announcement comes as BA.4 and BA.5 continue to increase in the US According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pair was responsible for 35% of new coronavirus cases last week. That’s up from nearly 23% of cases the prior week and 15% the week before that.

It’s unclear whether BA.4 and BA.5 will cause an uptick in cases, though experts say they’re likely to lead to a longer plateau for the latest coronavirus wave at the very least. The subvariants don’t yet appear to cause more severe disease.

Federal experts have been adamant that a decision on changing the composition of COVID-19 vaccines to target new variants ahead of expected coronaviruses arises in the fall and winter must be made in June. The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee has a meeting scheduled to “discuss whether and how the SARS-CoV-2 strain composition of COVID-19 vaccines should be modified” next week.

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