- On Monday, Moderna announced that its updated Omicron "bivalent" COVID booster shot provides a higher level of antibodies for the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants than their original vaccine. In a study, the company found that the booster provided more than a 15-fold increase in antibody levels.
- The study looked at 511 blood samples taken from adults who received the updated booster jab. In people who received the updated booster, the neutralizing antibodies against the subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 were five times higher in those with previous COVID infections and six times higher in those with no previous infection.
- In September, the US government replaced all original boosters made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech with the updated jabs. Federal officials were optimistic about the findings, however, the data can also indicate how difficult it is to keep up with a virus that continues to evolve.
- In a preliminary analysis, Moderna said that in a small number of subjects, the bivalent booster lost some effectiveness against the rapidly spreading BQ.1.1 subvariant, but could still provide some protection. According to the CDC, BQ.1.1 currently accounts for about a quarter of new cases in the US.
- Moderna also developed an earlier booster dose that targeted the BA.1 subvariant. It wasn't authorized in the US, but was approved for use in Canada and the UK.
- Narrative A, as provided by NEJM. Granted, the first vaccines produced for COVID weren't the perfect long-term solution, but it's important to remain agile to fine-tune current vaccines for a rapidly-evolving virus. When we add more options to the toolkit, personal and collective decision-making processes also improve — this is vital in the fight against variants.
- Narrative B, as provided by Time. Current COVID vaccines and boosters don't prevent people from becoming infected and don't fully stop long-COVID — these jabs were designed to reduce the disease severity and hospitalization. Perhaps it's time to focus fully on a "v2.0" vaccine to protect against all variants, block transmission, and prevent long-COVID. This upgrade, instead of tweaking what we have now, would go a long way in helping people to calculate their own risk.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Politico. While Moderna — along with Pfizer and other drug companies — should be commended for the speed and efficiency with which they initially developed vaccines against COVID, they've also acted as shameless profiteers, taking advantage of the crisis to rake in absurd profits. Their endless development of boosters is just a small part of this. More must be done to limit their excessive gains that come at great public expense.