Moderna CEO says Omicron booster could begin development within weeks

pharmafile | December 21, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications  

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said that the company could begin work on a booster shot against the Omicron variant in a matter of weeks, according to Reuters.

Moderna anticipates that they will begin clinical trials in early 2022, to protect against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. The company is currently awaiting crucial information on the variant to begin development. “It will take a few months before we can produce 500 million doses after (regulatory) approval. But our capacities are much higher today than a year ago,” Bancel said.

For the time being, Moderna is focusing on developing a booster dose of their current mRNA-1273 vaccine. Dr Paul Burton, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, commented: “What we have available right now is 1273. It’s highly effective and extremely safe. I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months, when we’re going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron.”

The company said that a two-dose course of its 1273 vaccine generated low neutralising antibodies against Omicron, but a 50µg booster dose increased neutralising antibodies against the variant 37-fold. A higher, 100µg booster dose of the same vaccine boosted antibody levels even more, to more than 80 times pre-boost levels.

While the company’s Omicron-specific booster shot advances towards clinical trials, the mRNA-1273 vaccine will continue to be its “first line of defence against Omicron”.

Moderna manufactured between 700 million and 800 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, and expects to produce a higher number in 2022, increasing production from 100 million doses a month to a whopping 150 million.

Lina Adams

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