(Reuters) - Moderna said on Thursday an initial study data showed its updated COVID-19 vaccine to be effective against the "Eris" and "Fornax" subvariants in humans.
The company expects the updated shot to be available, pending approval from health regulators in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, in the coming weeks for the fall vaccination season.
Moderna and other COVID-19 vaccine makers Novavax, Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE have created versions of their shots aimed at the XBB.1.5 subvariant.
Earlier on Thursday, Pfizer reported that its updated COVID-19 shot, co-developed with BioNTech, showed neutralizing activity against the Eris subvariant in a study conducted on mice.
Eris, the nickname for EG.5, is similar to the XBB.1.5 subvariant and a sub-lineage of the still-dominant Omicron variant.
EG.5 accounted for about more than 17% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the latest government data. Infections from Fornax, officially known as FL 1.5.1, are also rising across the country.
COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the U.S. are up more than 40% on low numbers from June, but are still more than 90% below peak levels hit during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022.
The World Health Organization classified EG.5 as a "variant of interest", indicating that it should be more closely watched than others because of mutations that might make it more contagious or severe.
(Reporting by Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)