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Moderna hopes to offer a single vaccine to fight against three respiratory illnesses, COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as early as the fall of 2023. The company’s goal is to combine the three vaccinations to make it easier for people to be protected against respiratory illnesses before the infectious winter season.
Moreover, getting one shot rather than two or three will reduce compliance problems, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel explained while speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum on Monday. His announcement was similar to the one made during an investors’ meeting last September.
The mRNA COVID booster is currently in phase three trials, whereas the influenza vaccine, which also uses mRNA technology, is under development, Bancel told the panel. The flu shot is expected to progress to phase three trials in a few months. Unfortunately, Moderna’s early-stage data indicated that while it created antibody levels against all four strains of the influenza virus, it was not as potent in older adults as Sanofi’s existing vaccine.
Moderna is currently running clinical trials for the RSV vaccine in older adults. They hope to include this in the yearly shot.
Drug manufacturers see the vaccine booster shot as good for business. Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech have already begun reaping significant financial gains from the boosters alone, reports Reuters. Combining other respiratory viruses, especially influenza — a shot everyone is encouraged to get each winter — would likely realize a more significant financial increase. Consumers hope this will entice competition for lower-priced vaccines and booster shots.
Health officials are hesitant to exhibit excitement over a combined vaccine because they do not believe the pandemic will become endemic in the near future. Speaking on the same World Economic Forum panel, Dr. Anthony Fauci said to enter an endemic phase, “the virus is more manageable and marked by a greater percentage of the population being immune. However, he believes that will not be the case anytime too soon and would only consider the pandemic to have reached endemic status when it doesn’t disrupt society,” according to Market Watch.
The only way to reach the endemic phase is for more people to be fully vaccinated; 2-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and a booster shot, or the single-dose J&J Jennsen vaccine and a booster.
Slightly less than 60% of adults worldwide are fully vaccinated, and the virus is not yet manageable. As a result, experts urge eligible individuals to be vaccinated and boosted so the world can move on beyond the pandemic.
Vaccines, booster shots, and COVID-19 tests are free of charge, no matter a person’s insurance or immigration status.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Clinical Trials Arena: Moderna eyes combined Covid-19, flu booster by 2023; by Darcy Jimenez
Marketwatch: Moderna aims for COVID/flu booster in 2023, but Fauci and other virus experts warn of challenges to come this year; by Barbara Kollmeyer
Politico: Moderna hopes to market combined COVID and flu booster in 2023; by Douglas Busvine
Reuters: Novavax begins early-stage trial for combined influenza/COVID-19 vaccine; by Mrinalika Roy
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Phil Roeder’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Anthony Quintano’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License