Moderna produces first Covid vaccine to tackle South African variant


MODERNA has produced the first Covid vaccine specifically designed to take on the South African variant.

Trials of the jab are set to start in the US – after the variant was found to lower efficacy of the current vaccines being used.

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Moderna are testing out a vaccine which could tackle the South African variant

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Moderna are testing out a vaccine which could tackle the South African variantCredit: Reuters

The new vaccines being trialled could be eventually used as jabs on their own or act as booster shots.

The South African variant, which has a key mutation – E484K – that is thought to help the virus evade the vaccines.

The mutation – also found in the Brazil variant – has concerned scientists as vaccine roll outs continue.

The UK has ordered 17 million doses of Moderna’s original vaccine, with delivery expected from the spring.

Doses of the latest shot to tackle the South African variant have been shipped to the US National Institutes of Health to prepare for a clinical trial, Moderna said in a statement.

Yesterday Professor Sarah Gilbert, from the University of Oxford, said current vaccines are unlikely to see a “cliff edge” fall in their effectiveness when faced with new variants.

She told MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee there are good signs that coronavirus variants will not suddenly start escaping from the effectiveness of vaccines.

Oxford and AstraZeneca are running clinical trials from the early summer with batches of their new vaccine aimed at tackling variants.

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VARIANT HOPE

A decision will then be taken over the summer on whether booster jabs should be offered in the autumn to tackle variants.

The South African variant was first found in the country in December, with experts warning it can spread at a faster rate than other variants.

ā€œSurgeā€ testing is currently underway inĀ areas of the UK where the variant has been detectedĀ in a bid to contain the spread.

In January UK regulators recommended the use of the Moderna jab – which isĀ 94 per cent effectiveĀ in preventing coronavirus.

The Moderna vaccine was hailed as “tremendously exciting” when the US pharmaceutical company posted its phase three clinical trial results in November.

Its trial involved more than 30,000 people, half of whom received the vaccine and the other half received a placebo.

The vaccine demonstrated a 94.1 per cent efficacy in the trial and 90.9 per cent efficacy in participants at risk of severe Covid-19.

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Moderna’s jab is easier to distribute than Pfizer’s, which has to be stored at -70C, as it has been shown to last up to 30 days in household fridges.

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