Mutant Wars: Moderna Takes Aim At South African Virus Variant

Mutant Wars: Moderna Takes Aim At South African Virus Variant

Moderna is jumping at the opportunity to take a stab (figuratively and literally) at the South African variant of COVID-19, which some worry could evade the vaccines. In a press release Monday, the company said that a study "showed no significant impact on neutralizing titers against the [UK] variant relative to prior variants" and while there was "a six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers observed with the [South African] variant... neutralizing titer levels remain[ed] above levels that are
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6 thoughts on “Mutant Wars: Moderna Takes Aim At South African Virus Variant

  1. sounds like COVID vaccines will become a recurrent proposition going forward, similar to what is commonly done for Flu. tweek the sequence every year and administer a booster in the fall. Good for MRNA and BNTX. Other vaccine technologies will be hard to adjust as fast.

  2. I am more concerned about the recent study that says once the virus infects your brain it may hide there even after you have ‘recovered’ causing relapses and neurological damage like MS or Parkinsons. The research paper is published in Viruses magazine. Original link from WebMD.

    1. Found the WebMD article as well as the Viruses mag one. Single team from Georgia State University, small study, needs to be corroborated. Slow progressive brain injury for (what percentage of?) the survivors. Trying to not make too much of a single study but the light at the end of the tunnel just got dimmer. …or maybe it’s the remaining virus in my brain.

  3. This is bullish for MRNA and PFE/BNTX – a scenario in which only the companies using mRNA technology can timely address virus variants is quite excellent for those stocks.

    This is a little bearish for countries that didn’t secure large volumes of MRNA and PFE/BNTX vaccine, but not as much as the knee-jerk reaction might suggest, as they probably contracted specifically for MRNA-1273 and BNT162b2, not for MRNA01274 or BNT163bX.

    This is bearish for China, whose home-grown vaccines are at best middling and not based on technology as flexible as mRNA, and whose political interests (both external aka ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and domestic) make buying Western vaccines fraught.

    And obviously this is bearish for AZN JNJ NVAX, unless future vaccination regimens are a combined dose of their vaccine (to deal with the original virus variants) and the new mRNA vaccines (to deal with the new variants).

    Personally, I’m skeptical that the virus can effectively evade the current MRNA and PFE/BNTX vaccines, since they encode the entire spike protein.

  4. I could have sworn reading Trevor Bedford’s account of the titer efficacy on his twitter account, (sorry, i beg your pardon and other apologies, but I NEEDED to type that out) that neutralizing effect of titer concentration had already been found in this study to be reduced to a level that called for a reformulation of the vaccine for the ‘South African’ strain. He pointed out that the reduction in titer efficacy required to reach that point was eight-fold, and that mark seemed to have been surpassed in the study.

    Here is the link to this thread:

  5. The tweet you linked to refers to convalescent sera from persons previously recovered from Covid, not to the efficacy of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. In the past few days, both companies have confirmed – via preprint for Biontech and press release for Moderna – their current vaccines are effective against both the UK and SA variants. They can also, of course, revise their vaccines to directly encode any variant.

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