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Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, at a White House meeting on March 2, 2020. Source: Business Insider.
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  • Moderna is working with U.S. government scientists to develop an experimental booster shot that targets a worrying variant of the coronavirus
  • The shot aims to tackle the South African variant of the virus, which is thought to be more resistant to vaccines than other strains
  • Other methods being explored to tackle rogue variants include combining vaccines and adding a third shot to its current two-dose program
  • The South African strain first reared its head in America in January and has since spread across 14 states
  • Moderna has also increased its targeted production in 2021 from 600 million to 700 million doses
  • It’s also exploring a number of improvements to its manufacturing facility that could further increase production to one billion doses

Moderna is working with U.S. government scientists to develop an experimental booster shot that targets a worrying variant of the coronavirus.

The Boston-based biotech company has produced raw material for a vaccine that aims to address the South African variant, which is thought to be more resistant to vaccines than other strains. The shot has been sent to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which assisted Moderna in developing its first vaccine for additional study.

At the same time, Moderna is experimenting with other ways to tackle the rogue variants, including a combined booster shot that mixes its current COVID-19 vaccine with the experimental shot and an additional booster shot on top of its existing two-dose program.

According to U.S. government data, the South African strain first reared its head in America in January and has since spread across 14 states.

In addition to progressing the experimental shot, Moderna has increased its targeted production for 2021 from 600 million to 700 million doses, and is exploring a number of improvements to its manufacturing facility that could further increase production to 1 billion doses.

The added capacity is also anticipated to increase Moderna’s production next year from 1.2 billion to 1.4 billion doses.

The company warned, however, that it typically takes between six and nine months to develop a new manufacturing facility before regulatory inspections and production ramp-ups can even begin.

So far, Moderna has shipped around 60 million doses of its vaccine, 55 million of which have gone to the U.S.

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