Moderna launches omicron-specific booster trial

Moderna has enrolled and dosed its first participant in a phase 2 trial testing a COVID-19 booster shot that targets omicron, the drugmaker said Jan. 26. 

Moderna aims to enroll 600 adults in the trial, which will include two groups: One that has received the initial two-dose series of its vaccine, and a second group that has completed the initial series and has received its currently authorized booster. Both groups will get the omicron-specific shot. 

On the same day, research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed antibody protection against omicron from Moderna's currently authorized booster shot waned after six months. Antibodies were still detectable, however, indicating the current booster still offers some level of protection. 

"We are reassured by the antibody persistence against omicron at six months after the currently authorized 50 [microgram] booster of mRNA-1273," said Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO. "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." 

Pfizer and BioNTech on Jan. 25 also said they had launched a clinical study evaluating the safety and efficacy of an omicron-specific vaccine. 

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