Moderna developing COVID-19 vaccine booster shot against South Africa variant

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center offers Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that his administration has secured commitments from coronavirus vaccine makers to buy another 200 million doses to arrive this summer, raising the total to 600 million and ensuring the US will eventually have two shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for almost every American.

But the positive news was tempered by the finding that there was a sixfold reduction in the level of highly-potent neutralizing antibodies produced against the South African variant, B.1.351.

The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) and The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), now recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women be offered the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ramaphosa, who now chairs the African Union, said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations.

The agency noted that the recommendations could be updated as more information becomes available, or if other types of vaccines are authorized for distribution. Pfizer, in an email to Science, wrote that it, too, is "laying the groundwork to respond quickly if a future variant of SARS-CoV-2 is unresponsive to existing vaccines".

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday (Jan 26) lashed out at "vaccine nationalism", accusing rich countries of bulk-buying coronavirus vaccines and hoarding them to the detriment of others.

The new USA restrictions come as a number of countries reconsider eased travel polices amid worry over virus variants that can make people sicker, spread faster and in some cases compromise the effectiveness of vaccines.

Meanwhile, the vaccine appeared to deliver equivalent levels of neutralizing antibodies with the United Kingdom variant.

First identified in the United Kingdom in September of previous year, the B.1.1.7 variant circulated at very low levels in the U.K. population through November and became highly prevalent in southeast England by December. "This is going to be hard", Psaki said.

The first USA case of the highly transmissible Brazil coronavirus variant has been identified in Minnesota.

A booster for B.1.351 would therefore carry the mRNA that creates the spike protein with the mutations that are specific to the variant.

"But it could be that one day, we have not received a shipment".

But earlier this month, it said that in "exceptional circumstances" it was possible to wait for up to 42 days to administer the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and on Tuesday, it said the same for the Moderna jabs.

It said it could not recommend its use during pregnancy or breastfeeding without seeing further safety data.