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Moderna announces that COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the ‘Eris’ and ‘Fornax’ sub-variants

Moderna, a prominent player in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, disclosed on Thursday that preliminary findings from an initial study indicated the efficacy of its updated COVID-19 vaccine against the sub-variants “Eris” and “Fornax.”

According to a Reuters report, the company expects the updated vaccine to be available in the coming weeks, ready for the fall vaccination season. However, the release is contingent upon approvals from health regulators in various regions, including the United States and Europe.

Moderna now joins other major contributors in the field, such as Pfizer, BioNTech SE, and Novavax, who have all formulated versions of their vaccines to address the XBB.1.5 sub-variant.

Eris, also known as EG.5, is akin to the XBB.1.5 sub-variant, colloquially referred to as ‘Kraken.’ It is a sub-lineage of the still-prevalent Omicron variant. Reports based on recent government data reveal that Eris accounts for over 17 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Furthermore, infections caused by Fornax or FL 1.5.1 are also on the rise across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated EG.5 as a “variant of interest,” indicating that it requires close monitoring due to its mutations potentially impacting transmissibility or severity.

Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, has also made strides in its updated COVID-19 vaccine. Their study, conducted on mice, demonstrated neutralizing activity against the Eris sub-variant.

In the United States, COVID-19-related hospitalizations have surged by more than 40 percent since the lower figures observed in June. Despite this increase, the current hospitalization rates remain over 90 percent lower than the peak levels recorded during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022.

Globally, reported COVID-19 cases escalated by 80 percent in July. WHO’s latest update states that from July 10 to August 6, nearly 1.5 million new cases were reported worldwide, marking an 80 percent rise compared to the preceding 28 days. The health agency also highlighted that EG.5 accounted for more than 17 percent of all reported cases in mid-July, a significant increase from 7.6 percent the previous month.


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