Omicron variant BA.5: New bivalent booster vaccine works better

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U.S. biotech company Moderna has released additional clinical trial data on its Omicron booster vaccines. The data from the Phase 2/3 study of more than 500 adults supported that the BA.4/5 booster resulted in significantly higher neutralizing antibody titers against BA.4/BA.5 than booster vaccination with Moderna’s original Corona vaccine, Spikevax.

The company’s BA.4/5 and BA.1 booster also produced “robust” neutralizing titers against the BQ.1.1 subline, Moderna reports. Compared with BA.4/5, however, the antibody response dropped nearly fivefold.

This is the most extensive study involving more than 500 adults aged 19-89, U.S. virologist Eric Topol also emphasized on Twitter.

Superior
“We are pleased that our two bivalent booster vaccine candidates provided superior protection against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants compared to our original booster, which is very encouraging given that Covid-19 remains a leading cause of hospitalizations and deaths worldwide,” he said. Moreover, superior response against Omicron persisted for at least three months after the mRNA-1273.214 booster,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.

The company’s updated bivalent booster vaccines showed neutralizing titers against BQ.1.1 in an exploratory analysis.

Variant BQ.1.1 on the rise
German expert Ralf Wittenbrink wrote on Twitter that the bivalent mRNA booster vaccine extends humoral immunity against omicron subvariants BA.1, BA.5, BA.2.75.2, and BQ.1.1. According to the RKI, BQ.1.1 has been increasingly detected in Germany and other countries in recent weeks. Still, no increase in disease burden has been observed with the spread of the subline.

Concurs with earlier data
Increasingly, studies with live viruses show that the bivalent vaccines also work well against virus variants such as BA.4/BA.5. In late September, German virologist Sandra Ciesek and Biontech published a mouse study with positive, initial data from Biontech/Pfizer’s bivalent BA.4/BA.5 vaccine because no human clinical data were available at the time. The first positive human data followed in October, but Pfizer released them as a press release rather than a study.

According to the company, the data showed a significant increase in neutralizing antibody response to BA.4/BA.5 compared with pre-booster levels. These levels were similar in people aged 18 to 55 years and in people over 55 years (40 participants in each age group).

  • source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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