New viral variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus are on the way, claimed Moderna scientists and executives in a Thursday virtual investor event, as reported by Barrons.

“As the virus spreads, it is rapidly mutating,” the company’s chief scientific officer, Melissa Moore, said on the call. “Some of these new viral strains appear to be even more transmissible than the original strain… We already know that some of these new strains are less susceptible to neutralization by our current vaccine.”

The company is constantly testing its vaccine against the new variants, she said. But that complex work lags their emergence.

“The shortest time from the detection of a variant of concern to preclinical immunogenicity readout against a panel of pseudoviruses is approximately 2 to 3 months,” said Guillaume Stewat-Jones, a Moderna scientist who works as associate director of antigen design and selection on their infectious disease team. “And new viral variants are coming — emerging constantly in real time.”

While it’s generally acknowledged that most variants will not morph into something more fatal than the current virus, there are no guarantees.

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