Moderna has started a clinical trial to test its COVID-19 vaccine booster shot specifically targeted against the highly contagious Omicron variant, the company announced on Jan. 26.
Moderna said that its Phase 2 study, which is its first trial using the Omicron-specific vaccine in humans, will study its safety and effectiveness in adults.
According to the company, it is enrolling two groups in the clinical trial: people who received two doses of its vaccine at least six months ago and people who received two doses and a booster shot at least three months ago.
The company further said that it expects to enroll about 300 participants into each group of the trial, which will be conducted at up to 24 sites in the United States.
Moderna also published new data in The New England Journal of Medicine, revealing about a 6.3-fold drop in the ability of the antibodies to neutralize the variant, compared with a decline of about 2.3-fold against the original strain six months after the booster.
Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel reassured that the neutralizing antibodies against Omicron remain detectable after six months of taking the currently authorized booster.
“Nonetheless, given the long-term threat demonstrated by Omicron’s immune escape, we are advancing our Omicron-specific variant vaccine booster candidate,” Bancel added.
Moderna’s announcement came a day after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they began testing their own Omicron-specific vaccine in a clinical trial.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron now accounts for virtually all new COVID-19 cases in the country.
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