Moderna says next-generation COVID vaccine efficacy non-inferior to current shot

FILE PHOTO: Test tubes are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo in this illustration

(Reuters) -Moderna said on Thursday its next-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed it was not inferior in efficacy compared to its approved shot in a late-stage study.

The experimental vaccine, which met the main trial goal, was being tested in more than 11,000 people aged 12 years and older. The shot showed superior efficacy in adults than the current vaccine sold under the brand Spikevax.

Moderna had designed the next-generation vaccine to offer a longer shelf life and the ability to store and ship in refrigerators instead of freezers, potentially alleviating a major hurdle for its distribution, especially in developing countries.

The new findings build on data released in March, which showed the vaccine had elicited a stronger immune response against both the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variant and original strains of the coronavirus compared with Spikevax.

Moderna has been working on multiple new messenger RNA vaccines, including the recently approved RSV vaccine, mRESVIA, and other experimental shots, to tackle waning demand for COVID vaccines.

The company will present the clinical data at a conference, as well as engage with regulators on the next steps for the next-generation COVID vaccine.

The new COVID vaccine is also being tested as a combination shot with Moderna's flu shot.

On Monday, the company said the combination vaccine generated a stronger immune response in adults aged 50 and over in a late-stage trial when compared to separate shots.

The drugmaker hopes to launch the combination shot for the autumn respiratory disease season next year, Moderna President Stephen Hoge had then said.

"If not 2025, then 2026."

(Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)