COVID shots for JN.1 variant neutralize newer strains, vaccine makers say

By Thomson Reuters Jun 5, 2024 | 8:13 AM

(Reuters) – COVID-19 vaccine makers said data from animals studies showed their 2024-25 shots targeting the JN.1 variant that was dominant earlier this year could neutralize newer subvariants such as KP.2 much better than the older shots.

This was disclosed in presentations by the companies ahead of a meeting of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisers on Wednesday.

The FDA panel will vote to recommend if companies should target the JN.1 variant when the companies update their vaccines for 2024-25 immunization campaign.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech will be ready to supply the updated vaccines immediately upon approval, while Moderna and Novavax forecast a timeline for August, the companies said.

Focus will be on whether advisers will recommend JN.1 strain or KP.2, which is now the dominant strain in the United States.

Pfizer and Moderna said they are ready to supply vaccines that target either JN.1 or KP.2. Novavax has said it would be able to offer a vaccine in the United States this autumn if regulators accept the shot it started manufacturing to target the JN.1 variant.

Novavax makes a more traditional protein-based shot that takes longer to manufacture, while vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA) from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech can be developed more quickly.

Pfizer had said it could make the shots in 100 days.

(Reporting by Christy Santhosh and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)