The officials from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have said that the agency has launched a clinical trial to test the COVID vaccine booster shot that has been developed by Moderna. As per the report, this COVID booster shot has been designed to protect people against the COVID19 variant that has been found in South Africa. Experts have said that the South African variant has been found to be more contagious than the original strain. The clinical trial on the Moderna booster shot has been sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) The trial will test the safety and efficacy of the booster shot against the South African variant known as B.1.351. The trial will include around 210 healthy adults. Experts have said that the new trial has already given some of its first shots to some participants. Nearly 60 volunteers who have taken part in the clinical trial of Moderna’s original COVID19 vaccine as well have been enrolled in the new booster trial.
Sixty participants who have been given two shots of Moderna’s original vaccine in the gap of 28 days will be divided into two groups. Some of them will receive a high dose of the single booster shot of the new vaccine. At the same time, some of them will be given a lower dose of the new vaccine. As part of a separate clinical trial protocol, the rest of the participants will be given a single booster shot along with the original vaccine. Scientists are planning to take blood samples of the participants during the new trial to test against other variants of coronavirus. It will determine whether the new vaccine is able to trigger an immune response against other strains, said the experts. The agency has said that the new trial will enroll volunteers from Atlanta, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Nashville, Tennessee regions. Experts are expected to complete the enrolment of the volunteers by end of April, said the agency. The strain that has been found in South Africa has been giving sleepless nights to health officials, as it seems to be more transmissible as compared to other strains. Earlier, scientists have warned that it might be able to dodge the efficiency of other treatments and COVID19 vaccines.
The CDC has reported that nearly 312 cases of COVID19 have been found to be linked to the South African variant in the US so far. The director of the NIAID and White House chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that initial data show that currently available COVID19 vaccines in the US might be able to offer enough protection against various strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, due to an abundance of caution, NIAID has joined hands with Moderna to test this variant vaccine entrant as many studies have noted that there might be a need for a modified vaccine to fight against these variants. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well has shown its support and said that the agency will speed up the approval process for such modified vaccines that will target these deadly variants. The updated vaccines will not need to go through the course of lengthy clinical trials, said the officials. Nevertheless, the NIH officials have said that a sovereign safety monitoring committee will be set up to keep a check on the trials and ensure the safety and efficacy of these shots.