Moderna Takes Aim At Omicron With Specialized Booster Trial

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Jack Kerley Contributor
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Moderna announced phase two studies of their Omicron-specific booster shot began after the trial’s first participant was dosed Wednesday.

The study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of mRNA-1273.529 as a single booster dose and will be tested on two groups, according to Moderna’s press release.

Group one will consist of people who’ve received both primary series mRNA-1273 doses with the second being administered at least six months prior. Group two will consist of people who’ve received both primary series mRNA-1273 doses and a 50 microgram mRNA-1273 booster administered at least three months ago.

Both groups will receive a 50 microgram dose of the booster, testing the efficacy as both a third and fourth dose of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reported.

“We are reassured by the antibody persistence against Omicron at six months after the currently authorized 50 µg booster of mRNA-1273,” said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel. “Nonetheless, given the long-term threat demonstrated by Omicron’s immune escape, we are advancing our Omicron-specific variant vaccine booster candidate and we are pleased to begin this part of our phase 2 study.”

A January study from Israel showed that a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine proved to be insufficient at protecting people from Omicron, according to Bloomberg. Pfizer-BioNTech announced Tuesday that they are also testing a new, Omicron-specific booster, Reuters reported. (RELATED: Biden Doubles Order Of COVID Antiviral Pill, Warns Unvaccinated Americans In Wake Of Omicron)

Moderna’s data suggests that a 50 and 100 microgram boosters increased neutralizing antibody levels by 37 times and 83 times respectively.

“At seven months post-second dose and before the third booster dose, Omicron neutralization was detected in only 55% of participants,” the company stated in the release.

Moderna said they expect about 600 people in the U.S. to participate in the phase two trials for the Omicron booster. The trials would only focus on people aged 18 or above.

A study conducted in the U.K. suggested that T-cells from the common cold could protect people from COVID-19, Al Jazeera reported.

Omicron currently accounts for 99.9% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to Reuters.