The Moderna coronavirus vaccine, due to arrive in the UK this spring, is effective against any newly discovered mutations in the virus that have been discovered so far, the company announced.
This includes the new strain, which was first discovered in the south east of England and which scientists say is more transmissible than the previous variant and possibly more deadly.
According to Moderna, laboratory tests showed that vaccination with the sting produced neutralizing antibodies against all major new variants, including the South African mutation.
The study showed no significant impact on antibodies against the UK variant compared to previous variants.
While the neutralizing antibodies produced against the South African variant were reduced six-fold, levels remained above those expected to be protective, Moderna said.
Stephane Bancel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Moderna, said: “As we seek to defeat the Covid-19 virus, which has caused a global pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves.
“We are encouraged by this new data, which increases our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should protect against these newly discovered variants.”
The UK government has bought 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine – enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people, but the first doses are not expected to hit the country until the spring.
The biotech company is also starting a clinical trial to test an additional booster dose of its vaccine (mRNA-1273) and investigate the ability to further raise antibodies to emerging strains beyond the existing primary vaccine lines.
The company is also developing a new variant booster candidate (mRNA-1273.351) against the variant first identified in South Africa.
Mr. Bancel added: “Out of caution and taking advantage of the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are bringing a new variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa to the clinic to see if it will be more effective in titer (antibody ) against these and possibly future variants. “