Moderna working on hybrid COVID-19/Flu vaccine

Coronavirus

FILE – In this March 4, 2021 file photo, a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at a drive-up mass vaccination site in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine brought in more than $4 billion in second-quarter sales, Thursday, Aug. 5, pushing the vaccine developer into a profit. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

NORWOOD, Mass. (NewsNation Now) — Moderna announced it’s developing a hybrid vaccine that would provide protection against COVID-19 and influenza.

“Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The company has not gotten approval or authorization for its standalone flu shot yet, and only began a Phase 1/2 study for it in July. A Moderna spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on when trials for this hybrid shot would start, or if they expect the two-in-one shot to be as effective.

Moderna is not the only company trying to combine flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Novavax began a clinical trial in Australia Wednesday to test its own shot. Results are expected in the first half of next year.

News of the combo vaccine was a boon for Moderna’s stock, which was up more than 6% by noon ET Thursday. The price has gone up more than 300% year to date as its COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out and amid expectations more companies will mandate shots to control the delta variant.

President Joe Biden is speaking Thursday and is expected to announce a stiffer mandate for federal workers than the one that’s been in place.

Moderna is also developing four variant-specific booster candidates to the standalone COVID-19 shot, including a formula specifically targeting delta. There was no word on when they could be submitted for authorization or approval from the Food and Drug administration.

They have also submitted a third dose booster application to the FDA for the current vaccine, although it would be at half the potency of the first two shots. A recent study showed Moderna’s product induced a stronger level of antibodies than Pfizer’s mRNA offering, but experts said that could be expected since Moderna has more than twice the amount of active ingredient in one dose.

Booster shots have been an increasingly controversial topic internationally. The World Health Organization has asked wealthy countries to hold off on giving out third doses until the rest of the world can begin their vaccination programs. As recently as August, U.S. health experts were split on if they’d even be necessary.

But they have framed it as a way of getting ahead of what they believe could be a preventable wave of infections as immunity wanes.

“You can see the trend, let’s prepare for it,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said on NewsNation Prime last month.

In addition to the combination vaccine, the news release said work was progressing on shots against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and parainfluenza type 3 (PIV3), and an experimental cancer vaccine.

The company is also working on a “next generation” COVID-19 vaccine, which is in its first trial phase.

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