Early laboratory tests carried out by scientists from the US pharmaceutical company suggest that antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants. More studies are required to confirm if it’s true for people who have been vaccinated.
The new variants have been spreading rapidly in a number of nations. They have gone through changes or mutations, this implies they can infect human cells faster than the original version of coronavirus that started the pandemic.
Current vaccines were made for earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new variants, although perhaps not quite as well.
For the Moderna study, researchers looked at blood samples gotten from 8 people who had received the recommended 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The results are yet to be peer reviewed, but suggest immunity from the vaccine recognizes the new coronavirus variants.
Neutralizing antibodies, made by the body's immune system, prevents the virus from entering cells. Blood samples exposed to the new variants seemed to have enough antibodies to achieve this neutralizing effect, although it was not strong for the South Africa variant as it was for the UK variant. Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South Africa variant might fade more quickly.
Moderna is currently testing whether giving a 3rd booster shot might be helpful. The company is also investigating whether remaking the booster to be a better match for the new variants will be helpful.
The UK regulators have already approved Moderna's vaccine for rollout, but the 17million pre-ordered doses are not expected to arrive until spring. The vaccine works in a similar way to the Pfizer vaccine one already being used in the UK.
Over 6.3 million people in the UK have already received a first dose of either the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Source: BBC News