Moderna confident COVID-19 vaccine will work against new strain

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Moderna says it’s confident that its COVID-19 vaccine will provide protection from the highly contagious coronavirus strain that’s spreading in the UK and other countries.

Research has shown the shot is “equally effective” against several other variants of the virus that emerged earlier in the pandemic, the Massachusetts biotech firm said in a statement. The company said it will perform more tests in the coming weeks to make sure the same is true for the UK strain.

“While we plan to run tests to confirm the activity of the vaccine against any strain, the broad range of potential neutralizing antibodies made possible by the Moderna COVID 19 Vaccine provide confidence that our vaccine will also be effective at inducing neutralizing antibodies against them,” Moderna said Wednesday.

Both Moderna and BioNTech — the German company that developed another vaccine with Pfizer — have offered reassurances about their shots after the new strain sparked fears about the pandemic getting worse.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked down London and surrounding areas last week after research revealed the new variant was at least 70 percent more transmissible.

But BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin reportedly said the proteins in the new strain are “99 percent the same as the original version,” meaning there’s a strong chance his company’s vaccine will also work against it.

“Scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variant,” Sahin said on Tuesday.

American health officials started distributing Moderna’s vaccine this week after it became the second to be cleared for emergency use in the US. Pfizer’s shot was rolled out last week following a similar approval.

Moderna shares were down 0.8 percent in premarket trading at $129.30 as of 7:48 a.m.

With Post wires

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