Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2021. 10:38 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The BBC reports that scientists from Moderna, which produced the second internationally-approved COVID-19 vaccine, are touting its effectiveness against new, more infectious variants of the virus found in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Their early laboratory tests suggest antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this in persons already vaccinated.
The new variants have mutated to infect human cells more easily than the original virus; the UK strain that emerged in September is believed to be up to 70 percent more transmissible. Scientists believe that despite the current vaccines being designed to counter earlier variants, they should still work against new ones though not as well, as with the Pfizer vaccine and the UK variant.
Neutralizing antibodies, made by the body’s immune system, stop the virus from entering cells.
Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient antibodies to achieve this neutralizing, although the effect was not as strong for the South Africa variant compared to the UK one. Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South Africa variant might disappear more quickly. It is currently testing whether giving a third booster shot might be beneficial, or whether redesigning the vaccine to be a better match for the new variants will be beneficial.
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