The companies said Thursday the new data "support previous results from immunogenicity studies demonstrating that (the vaccine) induced a robust neutralising antibody response to the B1.351 (South African) variant, and although lower than to the wild-type strain, it does not appear to affect the high observed efficacy against this variant". The vaccine now has emergency use authorization, EUA, which falls short of full approval.
The results follow separate data that showed the vaccine is safe and effective in 12- to 15-year olds, paving the way for the drugmakers to seek US and European approvals for this group.
No cases of the disease were observed in South Africa during the phase-three trial study among participants who had received their second dose, the companies said in a statement. "These data also provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against now circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population".
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed that protection from these vaccines is likely to last longer than six months.
The updated data from a trial of more than 46,000 participants through March 13 showed 927 confirmed symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
The country has administered a total of 7,06,18,026 vaccine doses till 8 pm, the ministry said, adding that the number included 6,13,56,345 people who received its first dose. The agency says they recommend against this practice because the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a preservative and there is a risk of contamination.
The companies said the results contained data on more than 12,000 participants who had been fully inoculated for at least six months.
'The vaccine elicits such high levels of antibodies that even when confronted with a variant. there's still meaningful protection, ' Hensley told CNN.
The efficacy level is slightly down from the 95% number the vaccine first posted in the trial. The approach has been tested against other viruses and studies in animals and people show they stimulate a strong and broad immune response.
"A year ago I tried the Moderna vaccine to see if it was safe". As part of the process, they both must continue their clinical trials for two years and will continue to report safety and efficacy data as they get it.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two changes to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine that can provide extra doses from each vial.