Biotech firm Modena said Wednesday it is working with scientists employed by the U.S. government to develop a booster needle against the mutated virus on top of its existing crown vaccine, and will increase vaccine production.
Mr. Modena said the company has the raw materials for a vaccine specifically designed for the novel coronavirus variant that was first discovered in South Africa.
Some vaccines against the mutated virus have arrived at the National Institutes of Health.
“We look forward to starting clinical trials of the booster needle,” said Modena CEO Stephane Bonsel.
Novel coronavirus, a mutation found in South Africa, arrived in the United States in January and has since spread to 14 states.
Several studies have shown that existing new crown vaccines have limited effectiveness against the mutated virus.
Modena has begun developing a vaccine specifically for the mutated virus.
Dr. Modena is trying to respond to the mutant novel coronavirus in a number of ways, including developing booster shots specifically for the novel coronavirus originally found in South Africa, producing a booster version containing the booster component, or adding a dose of an existing vaccine to the current vaccination program.
In addition, Modena pledged to “significantly ramp up” its vaccine capacity, raising its production target from 600 million doses this year to 700 million, with 1.4 billion doses expected in 2022.
Modena has delivered 60m doses to date, 55m of which are in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday that Modena’s vaccine, which specifically deals with the mutated virus, would not have to go through all the approval process again.
Johnson & Johnson Inc. ‘s new coronavirus vaccine is “highly effective” in preventing severe symptoms after infection with the novel coronavirus virus, the regulator said in a filing released Thursday.
The 39,321 participants in the multinational trial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed an average efficacy of 85.4 percent in preventing severe illness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to convene a meeting of an independent panel of experts Monday that could authorize the J&J vaccine for emergency use.
Jeff Zintz, the White House’s coordinator for the pandemic response, told reporters that the federal government will distribute 3 million to 4 million doses of the J&J vaccine in the next week once it is authorized for emergency use.
The New England Journal of Medicine on the same day published the results of a study showing that the new crown vaccine, developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s Biotech Nueneux, is very effective in practical use.
The study was conducted in Israel and involved 1.2 million people.
After two doses of Pfizer vaccine, people of all ages saw a 94 percent reduction in mild symptoms of the new crown, and a nearly halving reduction in severe symptoms.