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Moderna says new version of vaccine is tailored to quell infection by South Africa variant

A forensic pathologist takes a swab from a body for a coronavirus test in Belgrade, Serbia, on Monday. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)
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Moderna said Wednesday that it has manufactured a new version of its coronavirus vaccine that is tailored to quell infection by the variant first identified in South Africa. A small amount of vaccine has been sent to the National Institutes of Health for a trial to determine whether boosting humans with the modified vaccine will stimulate a strong immune response, the company said.

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The news came after the release of a Food and Drug Administration review finding the single-shot coronavirus vaccine made by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson safe and effective. The review sets the stage for a third coronavirus vaccine to be authorized in the United States as soon as this weekend.

Here are some significant developments:

  • A coronavirus variant detected in California now makes up more than half of the infections in 44 counties, according to new research.
  • The Biden administration plans to deliver 25 million free cloth masks to low-income Americans over the next two months.
  • As the House prepares to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, divisions are growing among Senate Democrats over state aid and a $15 minimum wage — raising the prospect that the bill might have to change significantly to pass the Senate.
  • Domestic production of coronavirus vaccine increased while the global death rate decreased, the World Health Organization said.
  • The first 600,000 doses distributed by the Covax initiative to ensure equitable vaccine access for lower-income countries arrived in Ghana.
  • China’s Sinopharm company has announced the approval of a second vaccine, this one from its Wuhan unit, with an efficacy of 72.5 percent.

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