Moderna announces omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shot

Moderna has announced that it has developed an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shot.

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The company is now submitting the data collected during its trials to federal regulators with hopes of being able to distribute the vaccine booster this fall, Moderna said in a news release.

The data was released by Moderna and has not yet been reviewed by scientists outside of the company, NBC News reported.

Moderna said the booster gave an eightfold increase in antibody levels against the omicron variant, but also increased protection against the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants, The Washington Post reported.

Moderna has been working on variant-specific booster monovalent and bivalent shots since February 2021. But it has focused on a bivalent booster that targets two viral strains at the same time.

The bivalent booster candidate named mRNA-1273.211, which was announced in April, showed a strong result against beta, delta and omicron variants a month after the shot was given. The shots protected against beta and omicron six months after they were given, the company said in a news release.

The booster was tested in a Phase 2/3 clinical trial that involved 437 people. Researchers used the same 50 microgram dose as the current booster. They said the treatment was well-tolerated with similar side effects as existing vaccines, NBC News reported.

A panel of vaccine experts advised the Food and Drug Administration this week to approve a coronavirus vaccine made by Novavax, the Post reported. The vaccine still needs to have the approval of not only the FDA, but also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is not known when the Novavax vaccine would be available.