THURSDAY, June 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Moderna Inc. announced Wednesday that the revamped COVID-19 booster shot it has developed to fight omicron and its subvariants should be ready for public use by August.

The company has been making shots of the vaccine, called mRNA-1273.214, before getting regulatory approval so it can be ready to ship doses out for the fall and winter, when health experts worry there could be another wave of COVID-19.

“In the face of SARS-CoV-2’s continued evolution, we are very encouraged that mRNA-1273.214, our lead booster candidate for the fall, has shown high neutralizing titers against the BA.4 and BA.5 [omicron] subvariants, which represent an emergent threat to global public health,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a company news release. “We will submit these data to regulators urgently and are preparing to supply our next generation bivalent [targeted to two variants] booster starting in August, ahead of a potential rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to omicron subvariants in the early fall.”

Already, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants account for 35 percent of all reported infections in the United States, up from 23 percent a week ago, the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

The vaccine targets both omicron and the original strain of the virus, unlike the first vaccine, which just targeted the original strain. In the latest data that Moderna released on Wednesday, the updated shot boosted antibodies against the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants by 5.4-fold above baseline in all participants regardless of prior infection and by 6.3-fold in the subset of participants who had no detectable COVID-19 antibodies in their blood before getting their shot.

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