In a statement released in August 2023 Moderna announced that preliminary clinical trial data “confirm” that the updated COVID-19 vaccine for the autumn 2023 vaccination season “showed a significant boost in neutralising antibodies” against EG.5 and FL 1.5.1 variants. The results imply that the updated vaccine can “effectively target” the expected circulating variants of COVID-19 during the upcoming vaccination season.  

Eris and Fornax 

As we note in our post on the so-called “Eris” variant, EG.5 is reported to be more infectious than previous variants. Despite this, there is currently no evidence of greater severity. EG.5 was recently classified by WHO as a “variant of interest”, reflecting genetic changes to characteristics such as “transmissibility, virulence, antibody evasion, susceptibility to therapeutics, and detectability”. Although the strain is being observed globally, and is the dominant variant in the US, the public health risk is “low”, according to WHO. A further variant, FL 1.5.1 or Fornax, is surging.  

Robust response 

Dr Stephen Hoge, President of Moderna, was pleased with the results, which demonstrate that the updated vaccine “generates a robust immune response against the rapidly spreading EG.5 and FL 1.5.1 strains”.  

“Moderna is committed to leveraging our mRNA technology to provide health security around the world.”  

Alongside the response against the strains, Moderna has also presented clinical trial data confirming that the updated vaccine showed “robust human immune responses” across “key circulating XBB strains”. Moderna reports that it has submitted the updated COVID-19 vaccine to the US FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other regulators across the world.  

“Pending authorisation, it will be ready for fall vaccination with sufficient global supply.” 

We previously shared the updated list of eligible groups for vaccination in the UK, and it has since been suggested that vaccines will also be available for private purchase for others. What will the vaccination strategy be for your country?  

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