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Can a Third Vaccine Shot Help Protect Against Coronavirus Variants?

By Brian Orelli, PhD and Keith Speights - Updated Jun 26, 2021 at 9:11PM

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Early results look good for patients and investors.

Moderna (MRNA -2.60%) recently announced data from a phase 2 clinical trial testing booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on May 10, contributors Brian Orelli and Keith Speights discuss the results of the study and what it could mean for patients and investors.

Brian Orelli: Sticking with COVID-19, Moderna announced data from a phase 2 clinical trial testing a booster of its coronavirus vaccine. How important do you think this data is for Moderna's future?

Keith Speights: I think this is important for Moderna's future, mainly because the variants are arguably the most important factor that will be driving the COVID-19 vaccine market going forward. From that standpoint, this news is important for Moderna.

They reported two positive findings. First, they said that a third booster dose of the vaccine that they've already had on the market increased neutralizing antibody levels against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and two, prominent variants, the B.1.351 variant, which is commonly referred to as the South African variant, and then the P.1 variant, which was first identified in Brazil. That third booster dose of Moderna's vaccine really increased the neutralizing antibodies against these variants, and that's very good news.

They also had what's arguably better news, that their modified variant-specific version of the vaccine achieved even higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against the South African variant than the third booster dose did. The South African variant is probably the most concerning right now anyway, and so that was, I would say, even better news.

So Moderna had two really good announcements, and so the results do seem to bode well for the company's prospects for its variant-specific vaccine, as well as maybe the third booster dose. Moderna is also testing a multivalent vaccine that combines its original mRNA-1273 vaccine with this variant-specific vaccine, and data from a study of that bivalent vaccine are expected soon, and I would expect you're going to see good results there, too.

Overall, my view is, this just shows Moderna is in a strong position to remain one of the leaders in the COVID-19 vaccine market over the next few years. I think pretty good news overall.

Orelli: I mean, except that I'm not looking forward to getting a third shot, I have to say. In that respect, it's not good news for me.

Speights: No. I've anticipated that possibility, and I knew that for sure in 2022 I would have to get another shot. But yeah, the longer in between shots, the better.

Orelli: Yeah. Well, I was OK. I mean, I was expecting a third shot before I got my second shot. But then after I had my reaction in my second shot and the side effects, I'm less interested in getting a third shot than I was before. [laughs] I'll still get it, but I'll plan it on a Friday so that I can recover on Saturday.

Speights: Smart move.

Brian Orelli, PhD and Keith Speights have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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