Moderna’s updated COVID vaccine helps fight against a new strain, study shows, and may be approved for use as soon as Friday

Moderna’s updated Covid-19 shot helps protect people against a new, highly mutated strain of the virus, according to initial results from a company study.

The vaccine increased antibodies, an important component of the immune system, to the BA.2.86 Covid strain almost nine fold, Moderna said in a statement Wednesday about its human clinical trial results. 

Scientists are watching the new BA.2.86 strain closely because it has many new mutations, raising the possibility it could spread. However, it’s too soon to know how transmissible it is, or whether it produces more severe symptoms than older variants, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update last week.

Last month, Moderna also said the vaccine boosted antibodies to the widely circulating EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants. The company said it has shared the trial results with regulators.

Pfizer Inc. also said Wednesday that its updated vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech SE, elicited a “strong neutralizing antibody response” against BA.2.86. The results were from a recent, unpublished pre-clinical study, which will be presented at the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices next week, the company said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines are both under review at the Food and Drug Administration. They’re expected to receive authorization as soon as Friday, NBC reports.

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