What happened

Shares of Moderna (MRNA -0.58%) rose 4.6% on Monday after the drugmaker released encouraging clinical trial results for its new COVID-19 booster. 

So what 

Moderna has worked to develop variant-specific vaccines to better protect against emerging coronavirus strains. An analysis of a phase 2/3 study of the company's Omicron-targeting booster candidates showed that they elicited a superior antibody response against Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, compared to a booster dose of Moderna's original COVID vaccine. The biotech also noted that the superior immune response against Omicron lasted for at least three months.

Importantly, no new safety concerns were observed during the study. Adverse reactions to Moderna's new boosters were similar to those seen with second or third doses of its original vaccine.

Moreover, Moderna's updated boosters also triggered a "robust" neutralizing activity against BQ.1.1, a rapidly spreading Omicron subvariant. The immune response was lower, however, than for BA.4 and BA.5.

"Updated vaccines have the potential to offer protection as the virus continues to evolve rapidly to escape our immunity," CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a press release.

Now what

These promising results could prompt more people to get booster shots ahead of potential COVID surges during the winter. They also bode well for Moderna's ongoing ability to update its vaccine to target new coronavirus mutations.

Safe and effective boosters that help to protect against dangerous new COVID variants could help to bring an end to the pandemic. They could also help to bolster Moderna's sales and profits, particularly if the drugmaker increases the prices of its vaccines, as expected, next year.