Moderna begins testing omicron-matched COVID shots in adults

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – Moderna has begun testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster in healthy adults.

The company announced Wednesday that the first participant had received a dose. Earlier this week, rival Pfizer began a similar investigation into its own reformulated shots.

It is not clear whether global health authorities will order a change to the vaccine prescription in the wake of the hugely contagious omicron variant. The original vaccines still provide good protection against death and serious illness. Studies in the United States and elsewhere show that a booster dose strengthens this protection and improves the chances of avoiding an even milder infection.

Moderna pointed to a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that showed that antibodies capable of targeting omicron lasted for six months after a booster dose, even though levels were falling.

Modern’s new study will include about 600 people who have already received either two doses of the company’s original shot or two plus a booster dose. All volunteers will receive a dose of the experimental omicron-matched version.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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