It’s been two months since the COVID-19 vaccination campaign began, and researchers are preparing for a situation that was predicted by experts during the early days of the pandemic: the alteration in vaccines to combat the mutations of the virus.
There are evidences that report that some COVID-19 vaccines such as the Novavax and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines in South Africa are not as effective against the virus’ variant.
In the US, the current vaccines seem to be only partially effective against the newly identified strain of the virus. One of the companies, Moderna, has announced that it has already started to work on developing another version of the vaccine.
According to Stephen Goldstein, who studies evolutionary virology at the University of Utah, one of the reasons why Moderna is working on an updated version of its vaccine could be to boost the body’s antibody response, hence maintaining good levels of antibodies. However, there is still uncertainty around this assumption, as scientists do not know for sure the exact levels of antibodies that a person needs to generate in order to be protected from the virus.
It is expected that in a matter of few months, experts would be able to reveal the amount of immune response that corresponds with protection from COVID-19. With that, no more clinical trials will be required.
FDA continues to closely monitor the various identified variants of the virus that causes #COVID19 circulating globally, as well as monitoring for emerging variants.— Dr. Janet Woodcock (@DrWoodcockFDA) January 26, 2021
While there have been only two reported cases of people infected by the new variant of the virus in the US, there may be other unreported cases. Moreover, the new strain could eventually become more widespread and other strains of the virus may also emerge in the future, therefore it only makes sense why Moderna is preparing for things ahead of time.