Combined flu and COVID mRNA vaccine headed for next step

Moderna’s combined flu and COVID vaccine is headed for the final stage of clinical trials.

The company announced promising results from its Phase 1/2 trial of mRNA-1083, an mRNA vaccine designed to protect against both influenza and COVID-19.

Moderna is planning to start phase 3 clinical trials by the end of this year, with hopes that the vaccine will be approved for use in 2025.

“Flu and COVID-19 represent a significant seasonal burden for individuals, providers, healthcare systems and economies,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said in a statement.

“Combination vaccines offer an important opportunity to improve consumer and provider experience, increase compliance with public health recommendations, and deliver value for healthcare systems.”

The mRNA-1083 vaccine uses RNA to trigger the body to make parts of the COVID-19 virus (but not the whole virus). This allows the immune system to recognise and prepare its defences.

The new vaccine does the same thing with influenza as well, using mRNA to produce parts of the influenza virus.

At the moment, all approved influenza vaccines are a more ‘traditional’ type of vaccine: containing whole, inactivated influenza viruses or parts of viruses. Some other mRNA-based flu vaccines are in the pipeline, like one from Pfizer which started Phase 3 clinical trials last year.

While it’s safe to receive both flu and COVID vaccines at the same time, a combination vaccine would allow people to receive both immunisations in one jab.

In the Phase 1/2 trial, roughly 1200 adults received either the new mRNA-1083 vaccine, a conventional flu vaccine, or Moderna COVID boosters.

The experimental vaccine didn’t produce any more adverse reactions than the other vaccines, and the researchers could find “no new safety concerns”.

Participants with the experimental vaccine also had similar or higher levels of antibodies to combat flu than those with the conventional jabs, and similar COVID antibodies to those with the straight COVID jab.

Other companies, like Pfizer and Novavax, are also developing combination influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.

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