Combination COVID-Flu Vaccine is Coming

Moderna has passed its combined COVID-flu vaccine through Phase 3 trials. The company announced the successful trial results earlier this month. 

The bar to approval of such a vaccine is a demanding one. It must prove to be as effective or more effective than currently available vaccines for both influenza and COVID.

The Phase 3 trial results suggest the Moderna two-in-one jab is as or more effective than current flu vaccines and more effective than currently available COVID booster shots, given that it is more closely aligned with the presently circulating coronavirus variants.

The study enrolled two groups of 4,000 adults over the age of 50. Its safety profile was equivalent to currently available vaccines, with the most common adverse reaction being injection site pain.

“We are very delighted about the results, because it’s the first time in the world that a company is able to show positive phase-three results combining in a single dose flu and Covid vaccine,” said Moderna CEO, Stephane Pancel.  “You get one dose, one needle – ease and peace of mind for the consumer”.

As Nature explained on Friday, combination vaccines have been a great challenge in the past, due to the interaction of components, but fortunately, the new mRNA vaccines do not face the same problem.

This also allows combinations of mRNA components targeting distinct variants of a virus to be included in the same vaccine. One experimental research group packed immune-system instructions for responding to 20 different flu variants into the same vaccine.

Moreover, antigen-based vaccines have to literally be grown in a laboratory, which leads to production times of up to six months. By contrast, mRNA vaccines can be manufactured in just weeks.

In other vaccine news, the AstraZeneca vaccine has finally been withdrawn from the market. The risk of blood clots and its lower effectiveness mean it is no longer competitive against the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The vaccine is estimated to have saved 6.5 million lives after it was released at the end of 2020.

Article image courtesy of @mufidpwt via Unsplash.

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