Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine is effective against the California variant and its protection lasts six months, according to two new studies.
In one study, researchers at Duke University found that the antibodies generated by Moderna’s jab had about half the neutralizing power against the strain first discovered in the Golden State.
Although this is a decline, the team says the results show the vaccine is still very effective.
It follows other research which found that the Moderna vaccine is weakened compared to the British variant, now the dominant strain in the United States, but still very protective.
In another study, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Emory University found that neutralizing antibodies remained at high levels for at least six months.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that although Moderna’s vaccine is very effective, more people are reporting reactions after receiving either dose compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
In one study, researchers at Duke University exposed blood samples from people who had received both doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to the California variant. Pictured: A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, April 7
Protection was only slightly reduced with antibodies having half the neutralizing power (in the center), enough to still be very effective in preventing infections.
For the first study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Duke’s team looked at blood samples from 26 people who received both doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The serum was then exposed to the California variant, known as B.1.427 / B.1.429.
The variant was first identified in May 2020 and was virtually non-existent until October.
In a recent study, the University of California, San Francisco examined 2,172 samples of the virus collected between September 2020 and January 2021 across California.
As of January, the new variant accounted for more than 50% of all genetically analyzed coronavirus samples.
In no time, it had become the most common strain in California and could account for up to 90% of infections in the state.
The team says this is good news because it shows that the Moderna vaccine protects against the most prevalent variant in California.
Laboratory studies performed by the USCF found that B.1.427 / B.1.429 produced a viral load twice as high as that triggered by other variants.
This suggests that the local variant is better at copying itself faster once it enters the human body and hijacks its machines.
The new study found that the protection of the Moderna vaccine against the California vaccine decreased only slightly, with about half the neutralizing power.
However, against the South African variant, the antibodies generated by the vaccine had 6.7 to 9.7 times less neutralizing power.
The team says this is good news because while the California variant is prevalent in the most populous US state, the South African variants are not widespread.
“The good news is that the California variant doesn’t appear to be a problem for our current vaccines,” said study author Dr. David Montefiori, professor and director of the Vaccine Research and Development Laboratory. AIDS at Duke’s surgical department, in a statement.
“This is important to know, because this variant is now as prevalent in the United States as the UK variant, both of which appear to be more contagious.
In a second study, researchers found that antibody levels remained high in all age groups six months after receiving the first dose.
A new CDC report finds that Moderna recipients were more likely to report reactions after receiving either dose compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pictured: A healthcare worker receives Moderna Inc Covid-19 vaccine in Tucson, Arizona, January 2021
For the second study, also published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team looked at blood samples from 33 healthy participants.
All had been assayed in the phase I trial, and researchers looked at levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies more than 200 days after the first dose.
Among all age groups, the level of antibody activity remained high after six months.
‘[A]ntibodies that were aroused by [the vaccine] persisted for six months after the second dose, ”the authors wrote.
“Ongoing studies are monitoring immune responses beyond six months and determining the effect of a booster dose to prolong the duration and extent of activity against emerging viral variants.
The report echoes what Pfizer-BioNTech reported last week about its coronavirus vaccine, which works similarly to Moderna’s jab.
However, despite reports of Moderna’s protection, recipients report more side effects than those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
In a new study, published in JAMA, CDC researchers are examining reports collected through V-SAFE, which uses text messages and online surveys so that vaccine recipients can note if they experience any side effects.
After the first dose, people who received Moderna inoculation were more likely to report side effects.
For example, 73.9% of Moderna recipients reported an injection site reaction, such as pain or redness, compared to 65.4% of people who received Pfizer.
In addition, 51.7% of people who received Moderna reported reactions such as headache, fever or chills, compared to 48% of Pfizer beneficiaries.
The disparity between the two vaccines increased after the second dose.
A total of 81.9 percent of Moderna recipients reported an injection site reaction and 74.8 percent reported other side effects.
Comparatively, 68.6 percent of those who received the Pfizer jab reported reactions from bulls to injection and 64.2 had other symptoms.
It is not known why more people who receive the Moderna vaccine report side effects.
The National Institutes of Health are now launching an investigation into why some people have suffered from allergic reactions to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.