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Moderna says vaccine protection still strong 6 months on

Firm has started testing new versions that target the South African variant

NEW YORK Moderna said on Tuesday that its Covid-19 vaccine still showed strong protection against the illness six months after people received their second shot, with efficacy of more than 90 per cent against all cases of Covid-19 and more than 95 per cent against severe Covid-19.

The vaccine-maker, which was scheduled to be updating investors on the progress of its vaccines at an event yesterday, said the six-month follow-up of its original late-stage study of the vaccine showed that efficacy remained consistent with its previous updates.

The company has also started testing new versions of the vaccine that target a concerning new variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in South Africa and is known as B1351.

Moderna said mice studies showed they elicited an increased immune response.

The results of these studies have been posted online in a scientific paper that is awaiting peer review.

"The new pre-clinical data on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants," said chief executive Stephane Bancel.

The company last month began testing three approaches to boosting the vaccine in order to protect against new variants.

Moderna's vaccine is authorised or approved for use in more than 40 countries. It uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which contains instructions for human cells to make proteins that mimic part of the coronavirus.

VIRUS-ZAPPING

The instructions spur the immune system into action, turning the body into a virus-zapping vaccine factory.

No actual virus is contained in the vaccines.

The US-based company said that as of Monday, it has delivered about 132 million doses globally, including 117 million doses for the US.

The company said it is on track to supply the nation with 300 million doses of the vaccine by the end of July.

The company's clinical trial for adolescents aged 12 to 17 is now fully enrolled with 3,000 US participants, and its paediatric trial for children aged six months to 11 years is continuing to enrol its 6,750 participants in the US and China. - REUTERS, AFP

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