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FAQ | Moderna Says Its Omicron-Targeted Vaccine ‘Shows Promise'

Moderna says it new bivalent booster dose demonstrates 'superior' protection against omicron. Here's how it works.

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Moderna announced on Wednesday, 8 June, that a new COVID vaccine developed by them targetting Omicron variant produces a better response to the variant and its subtypes than their original vaccine.

The vaccine, intended as a second booster dose, is also effective against the original strains, the company added.

In a statement, the company also said that it hopes to launch this vaccine as a booster dose by late 2022.

Moderna had announced that they were beginning this clinical trials for an omicron-specific COVID vaccine back in January.

Here's what to know about the new Moderna 'bivalent' booster candidate.

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What type of vaccine is this?

The new Moderna COVID vaccine candidate is a bivalent, mRNA booster vaccine.

What this means is that it is an mRNA vaccine like the previous version, but is 'bivalent' – targets two antigens, and is able to neutralise Omicron as well as older variants of concern.

Moderna had previously said that a booster shot of their original 'monovalent' COVID vaccine also protects against Omicron, however, the bivalent vaccine provides a far 'superior' protection for a prolonged period of time when used in combination with the original one.

How should this vaccine be taken?

It must be noted that the company has specified the use of this vaccine as a second booster dose only, and not as a primary COVID vaccine candidate.

According to the company, the vaccine 'demonstrated superiority' when taken as a second booster after 3 doses of the Moderna COVID vaccine.

At what stage is the trial?

The vaccine is currently in Phase 2/3 clinical trial.

The company has said that they are planning on submitting the preliminary findings from the study to regulators "with the hope that the Omicron-containing bivalent booster will be available in the late summer".

How many participants were involved in the study?

The study involved 437 participants.

What did the trial results find?

The preliminary data shows that the bivalent booster increased neutralizing titers (GMT) against Omicron approximately 8-fold above baseline levels.

How long will the vaccine protection last?

According to the company, a second booster shot of the bivalent vaccine was found to extend immune response against all variants of concern, including Omicron, for up to 6 months at least.

Did the participants have any side effects?

Although detailed data on adverse effects has not been released yet, according to the company, the safety and tolerability profile are similar to Moderna's previous COVID vaccines when they were administered as a second booster dose.

Are other COVID vaccine producers testing Omicron-targetted vaccines too?

Yes, Pfizer and BioNTech are also testing a similar vaccine targetting Omicron and its subvariants.

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