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Roche joins Moderna trials to test how long vaccine protection lasts

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·Finance and policy reporter
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Staff at a Swiss hospital conduct a COVID-19 antigenic test made by drugmaker Roche. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Staff at a Swiss hospital conduct a COVID-19 antigenic test made by drugmaker Roche. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The Swiss drugmaker Roche (ROG.SW, RHHBY) has joined forces with Moderna (MRNA) to include its antibody test in vaccine research trials, in a bid to see how long protection lasts.

While trials have shown multiple vaccines’ effectiveness in recent months, there is considerable uncertainty over how long their effects persist as trials have not had long to run.

Moderna’s vaccine works by triggering the production of antibodies, which in turn spur the immune system to fight back against COVID-19.

The partnership is expected to allow precise measurement of antibody levels and how they change after patients have been vaccinated.

READ MORE: UK secures 5 million doses of Moderna vaccine

“Through a blood sample, the test can measure the quantity of antibodies to the spike protein of the coronavirus,” said Roche in a statement on Wednesday.

Such measurement “could play a role in assessing if, or when, an individual needs revaccination, or in helping to answer other clinically relevant questions.”

WATCH: Cornell PhD candidate explains how coronavirus mRNA vaccines work

Roche’s Elecsys Ab test was granted emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration late last month.

The announcement gave only a slight boost to Roche shares on the SIX Swiss Exchange, up 0.3% in early trading. It came after US markets had closed.

READ MORE: UK could become first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine

It comes after Moderna became the second company to announce promising results from large-scale, phase 3 trials of their messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine candidate in November.

The biotech company, based in Cambridge Massachusetts, announced that its vaccine had shown a 94.5% efficacy rate at preventing COVID-19.

Roche stocks were up 0.5% in early trading on the SIX Swiss Exchange on Wednesday (9 December) after its partnership with Moderna was announced. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Roche stocks were up 0.5% in early trading on the SIX Swiss Exchange on Wednesday (9 December) after its partnership with Moderna was announced. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

The European Commission has reached an agreement to buy up to 160 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna. The British government reached a supply deal for 7 million doses, which it expects to receive in spring 2021.

The US government struck a deal for 100 million doses, with the option to buy another 400 million.

Moderna then filed for authorisation for its COVID-19 vaccine with the US and EU medical regulatory bodies on 30 November

The US Food and Drug Administration is to meet on 10 December to assess Pfizer and BioNTech’s trial results, and a week later to review Moderna’s data.

WATCH: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?

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