Moderna expects a new COVID-19 vaccine the drugmaker is developing that it says offers protection against the Omicron variant of the virus to be ready for public distribution by August.
The company has been manufacturing shots of the vaccine, called mRNA-1273.214, ahead of it getting regulatory approval in order to be ready for the fall and winter, when health experts say COVID-19 could flare.
Clinical trial data shows that the Moderna’s so-called bivalent booster vaccine candidate is highly effective against the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of the virus, which Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement “represent an emergent threat to global public health.”
He added, “In the face of SARS-CoV-2’s continued evolution, we are very encouraged that mRNA-1273.214, our lead booster candidate for the fall, has shown high neutralizing titers against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which represent an emergent threat to global public health.”
Unlike the current “monovalent” version of the vaccine, which was designed to target the original strain of the virus, Moderna’s latest vaccine also targets Omicron.
“We’d really like to be ready for the fall season later this year,” Lavina Talukdar, head of investor relations at Moderna, said at a Goldman Sachs health care conference last week. “In the Northern hemisphere, that’s when we think that susceptibility to infections is going to go higher just because we’ll spend more time indoors.”
Talukdar also said the company hopes to have product ready to ship “toward the end of August, early September, October-ish time frame.”