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expert reaction to press release from Moderna about their omicron-containing bivalent booster candidate, mRNA-1273.214, and its neutralising antibody response against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 compared to the currently authorised Moderna booster

The pharmaceutical company Moderna have released new clinical data on its bivalent Omicron (BA.1) booster candidate.


Prof Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection & Immunity; and Director of The Vaccine Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:

“With the Omicron variants BA.4 and 5 now causing most Sars-CoV-2 infections in Europe and the USA, the development and approval of variant-adapted COVID-19 vaccines for boosters is well on the way.  It was always a given that the first generation of these vaccines would require modifications, however, unfortunately we are always a step behind the virus evolution.  We ultimately need to get to a space where models might predict what happens next, so we can get ahead of the curve.

“Who needs a booster when is a bit of a moving target too, as we are now facing a mix of community immunity and personal protection induced by vaccines or natural infection and most likely both.  Hence in the absence of a “personalized vaccination approach”, able to use correlates of protection to predict who is protected for how long and against what COVID-disease manifestations, we need to stick with the notion of trying to protect the most vulnerable people with adapted boosters to keep people away from admissions and intensive care units.  Only by accompanying the booster campaigns with nested follow up studies will we get a better picture about the immune components that can protect long term.  These need to include measurements beyond quantitative serum antibody titres, people admitted with different manifestations of Covid-19 and community controls.  For now we are stuck with boosters for the most vulnerables and personal protection methods adapted to sensible risk assessments for all of us.  Plus the flu vaccine in the autumn as our healthcare systems cannot afford a double-hit.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



Declared interests

Prof Beate Kampmann: “no shares in any of the vaccines and not actively involved in any of the trials. On a couple of DSMB’s and actively looking out for the Covid vaccine data in pregnant women as part of COVAX.”

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