COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna says that new research shows that its vaccine appears to work against new highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus found in the UK and South Africa, according to early lab tests.
The company is also working on accelerating the development of a booster shot as well as "an emerging variant booster candidate" that could offer up greater protection against these strains.
"Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement.
The two new variants are currently circulating around the globe, with experts suggesting the UK variant could be up to 70 percent more transmissible than previous strains.
The news comes after vaccine maker Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, said earlier this month that its vaccine also appears to be effective against the new strains.
It's still too early to tell for sure whether either vaccine is indeed completely effective against the new strains. Moderna's study, conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has yet to be peer reviewed and only involved eight Phase 1 clinical trial participants.
UK experts believe the new UK strain of the coronavirus could be 30 to 40 percent deadlier and up to 70 percent more transmissible. The strain has already made its way across large swathes of the globe, playing a major role in countless spikes of new COVID-19 cases.