Photo by Ian Hutchinson via Unsplash

Moderna announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the Delta variant, along with several other variants on June 29. 

The biotech company states that its recently completed studies show that their vaccine has a neutralizing effect against all tested COVID-19 variants, including the Beta, Delta, Eta and Kappa variants. The data showed that the vaccine was far more effective at producing antibodies against the Delta variant than against the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa. 

However, the study found that the vaccine is still more effective against the original strain of the virus than the Delta variant and certain other variants. The antibody response to variants was roughly two times weaker than that of the ancestral strain of the virus.

“These new data are encouraging and reinforce our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, in a statement.

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Moderna said the results were based on the blood serum of eight participants a week after they received the second dose of the vaccine. The data has not yet been peer-reviewed, however, and may not accurately reflect how the vaccine will perform against the variant in real-world scenarios. 

Additionally, like the Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine also shows to be highly effective against the Delta variant. On June 24, Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was highly effective against the Delta variant through neutralization, albeit at reduced strength.  

Moderna also announced that it is developing a booster candidate which combines its currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine and another mRNA vaccine. 

The Delta variant, first identified in India, is a strain of the coronavirus that moves quickly and has been found in 96 countries, including the U.S. While it has reached 96 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that that number may be an underestimate since most nations lack the genome-sequencing capacity necessary to identify virus variants. 

According to the WHO, the Delta variant is 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in Britain in 2020. The Delta variant “is expected to rapidly outcompete other variants and become the dominant variant over the coming months,” said the WHO. 

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In the U.S., the Delta variant is now infecting at least one out of every five people who get COVID-19. Particularly in the Midwest and West, the Delta variant has become very common, and at its current pace, it is expected to be the dominant virus in the nation. 

The Delta variant is “currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health last week. The proportion of infections by the Delta variant is doubling every two weeks in the U.S. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant accounts for at least 20% of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

On June 24, President Joe Biden said that COVID-19 deaths will rise in the U.S. due to the spread of the Delta variant, calling it a “serious concern.” Biden warned that unvaccinated people are especially at risk. 

Scriberr News reached out to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease expert at the World Health Organization, but did not respond by deadline.

Written ByVivian Kwang

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