Drug behemoth Moderna’s (NASDAQ:MRNA) says its new COVID vaccine produced a strong immune response against BA.2.86, a highly mutated omicron variant that health officials are watching closely, according to clinical trial data the biotech company released Wednesday.
The updated shot produced an 8.7-fold increase in protective antibodies against BA.2.86, which has been detected in small numbers nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said the strain, also known as “Pirola,” may be more capable of escaping antibodies from earlier infections and vaccinations, but new research also suggests that the variant may be less immune-evasive than feared.
Moderna is the first out of the companies producing updated Covid jabs to release data on how its shot fares against BA.2.86.
Moderna, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) are slated to roll out new vaccines targeting another omicron strain called XBB.1.5 within weeks, pending potential approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
New vaccines are set to arrive as Eris and other COVID variants fuel a rise in cases and hospitalizations across the country.
COVID hospitalizations jumped 18.8% during the week ending Aug. 19, and 87% over the past month, according to the latest data from the CDC. But those metrics remain below levels seen when a surge strained hospitals last summer.
Eris accounted for 21.5% of all cases in the U.S. as of Saturday, while FL.1.5.1 accounted for 14.5%, according to the latest data from the CDC.
MRNA shares faded $1.06, or 1%, to $108.30.