Soon after omicron’s discovery last year, Moderna said it was developing shots specifically designed to fight the variant. Rivals Pfizer and BioNTech announced the same. In April, Moderna released data that showed a booster shot that the company began working on in February 2021, tailored to fight the original version of the virus and the beta variant, increased the level of virus-blocking antibodies against several variants, including omicron, better than a regular booster.
Data from the recent clinical trial, which involved 437 participants, showed that Moderna’s omicron-targeting booster would probably provide longer protection against variants a month after administration when compared with earlier versions of its coronavirus vaccine, Moderna said, making it the company’s “lead candidate for a Fall 2022 booster.” It will submit the data to regulators in the coming weeks.
The booster “was generally well-tolerated,” with side effects comparable to earlier boosters, the company said.
New daily coronavirus infections are slowly climbing in the United States. The country recorded a 38 percent uptick in new cases during the past week, according to figures compiled by The Washington Post, as protection from booster shots and previous infections wanes and as more people go about their lives without masks.
Globally, new cases are still declining after the omicron variant triggered tens of millions of new cases worldwide, driving up infections to peaks during the winter.
Independent vaccine experts advised the Food and Drug Administration this week to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Maryland biotechnology company Novavax, potentially widening immunization options for Americans.
Novavax’s shots are protein-based — an older but more familiar technology than the mRNA-based shots produced by Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech. This could persuade the millions of American vaccine holdouts who feel nervous about the mRNA shots to get immunized, vaccine experts say. It is unclear when the new shots would be available.