SA medical scientists to evaluate efficacy of Moderna COVID jab as booster shot

The Sisonke study team is launching the Sherpa Study that will assess the Moderna booster in protecting against COVID-19 infections and severe COVID-19 disease among healthcare workers.

FILE: Vials of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sit on a table at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on 6 April 2022 in San Rafael, California. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

CAPE TOWN - South African medical scientists will now evaluate the efficacy of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot.

The Sisonke study team is launching the Sherpa Study that will assess the Moderna booster in protecting against COVID-19 infections and severe COVID-19 disease among healthcare workers.

The study, sponsored by the South African Medical Research Council and co-funded by Moderna, sets out to enroll up to 15,000 participants who have received either a single or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Sisonke study for healthcare workers.

Sherpa co-principal investigator and Head of the Vaccine and Pathogenesis Programme at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Doctor Nigel Garrett, explains: "It's now about six months after the second dose for many healthcare workers. We have now been able to get sufficient vaccines to the research side to also offer the Moderna booster to the South African healthcare workers that participated in Sisonke."

Scientists said that the study would allow researchers to investigate the efficacy of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster against the new variants in South Africa and would provide the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) with additional data on this vaccine for potential licensing.