Moderna jab boosts neutralising antibodies against Omicron, study finds

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends the Moderna vaccine is given as a half dose booster.

Jane Kirby
Monday 20 December 2021 11:30
Moderna said its preliminary data looking at Omicron was ‘reassuring’ (Leon Neal/PA)
Moderna said its preliminary data looking at Omicron was ‘reassuring’ (Leon Neal/PA)
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A dose of the Moderna vaccine used in the UK’s booster programme increases neutralising antibodies against Omicron around 37-fold, the firm has announced.

Moderna said its preliminary data looking at Omicron was “reassuring”, though it will continue to develop a jab specific to the variant.

The data showed that 50mcg of the Moderna vaccine (the half-dose recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for the UK’s booster programme) increased neutralising antibody levels against Omicron approximately 37-fold compared to pre-boost levels, while a full dose increased it 83-fold.

The JCVI in the UK did not recommend a full dose due to the increased risk of side-effects and after a UK study found a half dose still provided very good protection.

(PA Graphics)

The US Food and Drug Administration also recommends that Moderna is given as a half dose booster.

The new data included blood samples from 20 people given a Moderna boost of 50mcg or 100mcg, with the results analysed at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Vaccine Research Centre at Duke University Medical Centre.

All groups had low neutralising antibody levels to Omicron before receiving a booster and were looked at again 29 days after the booster jab.

Antibodies are not the only part of the immune system to tackle coronavirus.

Experts believe that T cell immunity, which is harder to measure, also plays a key role in preventing severe disease.

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