Moderna vaccine
Updated shot boosted antibody protection against BA.2.86 Image Credit: Reuters

Washington: Moderna Inc.'s updated COVID-19 shot helps protect people against a new, highly mutated strain of the virus, according to initial results from a company study.

The vaccine increased antibodies, an important component of the immune system, to the BA.2.86 COVIDstrain almost nine fold, Moderna said in a statement Wednesday about its human clinical trial results.

Scientists are watching the new BA.2.86 strain closely because it has many new mutations, raising the possibility it could spread. However, it's too soon to know how transmissible it is, or whether it produces more severe symptoms than older variants, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update last week.

Last month, Moderna also said the vaccine boosted antibodies to the widely circulating EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants.

The company said it has shared the trial results with regulators. Its new shot and an updated COVIDshot from rival vaccine maker Pfizer Inc., partnered with BioNTech SE, are under review at the Food and Drug Administration. They're expected to receive authorization soon.