As the world grappled with the deadly covid19 pandemic, the vaccine seems to be the only cure. Pharma companies poured all their resources to come up with a vaccine that could potentially curb the infection. As a result, several different covid19 vaccines are now available with 90% to 99% efficacy against coronavirus. Nations went on with a massive vaccination drive to inoculate their population. However, even when vaccine production is going on at full capacity, many nations are still facing vaccine shortages. There is simply not enough vaccine to meet the demand. This puts the population of such countries in a vulnerable position, as without vaccination, Covid19 is bound to spread, causing immeasurable damage to human life. But there is good news, a study published in Nature reveals that even a Quarter-dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine still rouses a big immune response. When administered, a quarter of the normal dose Moderna vaccine still produces enough and lasting immune response – it could be a big win against vaccine shortage.
Nature writes in an article about a study done to determine the effectiveness of a quarter dose Moderna vaccine against preventing covid infection. It emphasizes how this discovery could help to cope with the serious global shortage of vaccines. According to the test, 35 people were administered a quarter of the regular Moderna vaccine dose – two jabs of 25 mg 28 days apart. After six months, nearly all the participants have developed enough ‘neutralizing’ antibodies which prevent covid infection. Blood samples also reveal legions of killer T cells that can destroy infected cells and kill the infection in its track.
According to Daniela Weiskopf, co-author of the study and an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) in California, “It is quite remarkable — and quite promising — that you can easily detect responses for that long a time.”
Dose reduction strategy is not a novelty in the medical field and has been successfully applied in 2016 for a large-scale vaccination drive in Africa and South America against yellow fever. It proved to be very effective against the prevention and spread of the disease. But no such approach has been attempted so far for covid vaccine despite its apparent shortage in most African regions. The study published in Nature is one of its kind and indicates that the dose reduction strategy can be successfully applied against Covid19 too.
Although the study is only done on a very small group of participants, still it can have huge implications. Economists are enthusiastic that such an approach could be a game-changer for vaccine starving nations. Even if the low dose could only spur a moderate response, it will still be enough to prevent Covid related mortality and check the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.