What to Know About Moderna’s Combined Covid-Flu Vaccine on the Horizon

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Moderna’s combined coronavirus-influenza shot produced a higher immune response in older adults than separate vaccines for those viruses administered together, according to data the company released Monday.

The promising results from clinical trials, which have yet to be peer reviewed and published in a medical journal, could offer a new option to boost paltry uptake of updated coronavirus vaccines.

Moderna officials say the earliest that the combined vaccine could hit the market is fall 2025, pending regulatory approval.

Here’s what you need to know:

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What did the trials find?

Moderna has been examining the effectiveness of a new mRNA vaccine containing components of its flu and next-generation coronavirus vaccines in people between 50 and 64 years old, and people 65 and older. Researchers compared outcomes from that vaccine to co-administering existing flu shots and Moderna’s individual coronavirus vaccine.

In both age groups, the combined vaccine elicited statistically significant higher immune responses against three influenza strains and coronavirus, Moderna said in a news release.

The phase 3 clinical trial involved cohorts of about 4,000 people in each age group and is randomized and observer-blind, meaning the researchers monitoring participants did not know which vaccine they received. Older people are at higher risk of severe disease and death from respiratory viruses.

Moderna also said the trials showed an “acceptable” safety profile with typical side effects such as pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax, the other licensed manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines in the United States, are also developing combined vaccines, but Moderna is further along in releasing data.

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Why is a combined vaccine significant?

Moderna said its combined vaccine would improve coverage rates and reduce barriers to vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 22.9 percent of adults received the most recent coronavirus vaccine, compared to 48.5 percent receiving an annual flu shot.

“There’s such a large gap between what the CDC recommends we do and what we are actually able to achieve each year,” said Jacqueline Miller, Moderna’s senior vice president who leads development of vaccines against infectious diseases.

Miller compared a combined covid-flu shot to pediatric DTaP vaccination, which she said protected more children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis by offering combined shots.

Experts say providing protection against flu and covid in one shot can be a sound public health strategy.

“As a physician and a patient, I would prefer to get one vaccine that has both of them,” said Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “It’s less time getting stuck, and you don’t have to keep thinking about, ‘When do I get this vaccine and when do I get that vaccine.’”

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What’s the latest with coronavirus vaccines?

Federal health officials are focused on updating and administering coronavirus vaccines as an annual shot released in the fall as part of a broader seasonal respiratory virus protection strategy. They have also recommended second shots for people ages 65 and older and immunocompromised people.

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended last week that vaccine manufacturers update coronavirus vaccines in fall to target the JN.1 variant that was the most common version of the virus circulating for much of the year.

“Covid has now joined the pantheon of respiratory viruses that can cause you to be hospitalized and die,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Moderna officials say a combined vaccine could be updated annually to match federal recommendations for which formulas to use for both flu and coronavirus.

(c) Washington Post


3 COMMENTS

  1. Honestly…..after everything we have gone through with the covid vaccine, it is astonishing to think that people would still fall for this.

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