Moderna’s updated Covid-19 vaccine could help protect people against a new, highly mutated strain of the virus, according to preliminary results from the company’s research.

Moderna said in a statement on Wednesday about the results of its human clinical trials that the vaccine increased antibodies, an important component of the immune system, nearly ninefold to the BA.2.86 Covid strain.

Scientists are watching the new BA.2.86 strain closely because it has many new mutations that increase the likelihood that it will spread. However, it is too early to know how transmissible it is, or whether it produces more severe symptoms than older variants, according to an update last week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, Moderna also said the vaccine booster antibody Widespread EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants. The company said it has shared the trial results with regulators.

Pfizer also said on Wednesday that its updated vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech SE, elicited a “strongly neutralizing antibody response” against BA.2.86. The company said in an emailed response to questions that the results come from a recent unpublished preclinical study that will be presented next week to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Both Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines are under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are expected to be authorized as early as Friday, according to NBC News.

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