Biotechnology company Moderna announced on Tuesday that its coronavirus vaccine was found in lab experiments to work against emerging variants, including the Delta variant first identified in India.
Studies showed that serum collected from people who had been vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine showed activity against all variant strains tested, including versions of the B.1.617 variant first identified in India and the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa, among others, according to the company. The study results have not been peer-reviewed yet and were published to the online server biorxiv.org as a pre-print paper.
"These new data are encouraging and reinforce our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement on Tuesday. "These findings highlight the importance of continuing to vaccinate populations with an effective primary series vaccine."
The serum samples, from eight participants, were obtained one week after the participants completed a second dose of vaccine in Moderna's Phase 1 clinical trial, the company noted.
While the serum showed neutralizing activity against the variants, researchers also noted some variation in how that activity was reduced – for instance, compared with the original strain of the coronavirus, the study results showed a 1.2-fold reduction against the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, 2.1-fold reduction against the Delta variant and up to 8.4-fold reduction against versions of the B.1.351 variant.
"Such data are crucial to inform necessary modifications to COVID-19 mRNA vaccines going forward, which may help to mitigate the ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the emergence of new variants," the researchers wrote in the pre-print paper. Moderna's vaccine involves mRNA technology and SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Moderna added in its announcement that the company is currently studying the potential need for booster shots against emerging variants "to proactively address the pandemic as the virus continues to evolve."