Pharmaceutical company Moderna aims to bring its Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster vaccine to market by the third quarter of 2022.
The first participant received an injection as part of US trials to improve third-dose protection against the strain.
“(It’s) a relatively short time between where we are today and when, potentially, we could have an Omicron-specific booster available in Australia,” the boss told AAP on Thursday. Australian from Moderna, Michael Azrak.
He added that the company has yet to have “firm discussions” with the federal government for future vaccine supplies.
“We have just updated the government with today’s news so that they are aware of the study and we will continue our dialogue as the data progresses.”
Moderna plans to test the vaccine in about 600 adults, looking at the efficacy and safety of the Omicron-specific vaccine.
It will be tested against two groups, those who received their second dose of Moderna at least six months ago as well as people who received a booster at least three months previously.
Moderna data published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that only 55% of patients had neutralizing antibodies against Omicron six months after a second dose.
But these antibodies could still be detected in all the patients who received a booster six months after their second dose.
“Compared to the ancestral strain, or what they sometimes call the Wuhan strain, we see a decrease in protection compared to Omicron, a faster decrease in protection,” Azrak said.
As the pandemic continues, Azrak plans annual vaccines to combat the variants.
“We will be moving towards a type of annual flu-like booster (vaccine), where we will look at the dominant strains and then develop a vaccine specific to those at that time,” Azrak said.
“When will we get there? I just don’t have that answer.
Australian Associated Press