Home Health Combined Flu and COVID Vaccine Provokes Higher Immune Response

Combined Flu and COVID Vaccine Provokes Higher Immune Response

by Chelsea Spears

Moderna has announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trial of a combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine.

This innovative vaccine, which merges protection against both influenza and COVID-19 into a single shot, has demonstrated a stronger immune response compared to the individual vaccines for each virus. This development could potentially change how we approach seasonal vaccinations and improve public health outcomes.

The Need for a Combined Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of vaccines in controlling infectious diseases. Despite hopes that COVID-19 would become a manageable endemic virus, it continues to pose a significant threat, particularly during the winter months when respiratory illnesses peak. Health experts recommend annual vaccinations for both COVID-19 and influenza to mitigate the impact of these viruses. However, vaccination rates for both diseases remain relatively low, partly due to vaccine fatigue and hesitancy.A combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine could address these challenges by simplifying the vaccination process. Instead of receiving two separate shots, individuals would only need one, potentially increasing compliance and coverage rates. This approach could be particularly beneficial for older adults and those at higher risk of severe illness from respiratory infections.

Promising Results from Phase 3 Trials

Moderna's combined vaccine, known as mRNA-1083, has shown remarkable results in late-stage clinical trials. The trial involved approximately 8,000 adults, divided into two age groups: those aged 50 to 64 and those aged 65 and older. Participants were either given the combined vaccine or separate flu and COVID-19 vaccines. The results were compelling.In the younger age group (50-64), the combined vaccine generated 20-40% higher antibody levels against influenza strains and 30% higher levels against the COVID-19 variant XBB.1.5 compared to the separate vaccines. Among older adults (65+), the combined vaccine produced 6-15% higher antibody levels against influenza strains and a striking 64% higher response against the XBB.1.5 variant.

Mechanism and Composition of the Vaccine

The combined vaccine employs Moderna's mRNA technology, which has been successfully used in its COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 component of the combined vaccine uses a modified version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, focusing on two critical parts instead of the entire protein. This streamlined approach could lead to a lower dose requirement and potentially a longer shelf life for the vaccine. The influenza component targets the three dominant strains from the past season: H1N1, H3N2 from the influenza A group, and an influenza B strain.

Safety and Tolerability

Safety is a paramount concern in vaccine development, and the combined vaccine has shown a favorable safety profile. The most commonly reported side effects were similar to those experienced with the individual vaccines, including pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. These side effects were generally mild and transient.

Public Health Implications

The introduction of a combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine could have significant public health benefits. By reducing the number of injections required, the combined vaccine could improve vaccination rates, particularly among populations that are less likely to get vaccinated. This could lead to lower hospitalization rates and reduced strain on healthcare systems during the flu season.Dr. Jacqueline Miller, Moderna's senior vice president and head of development in infectious diseases, highlighted the public health advantage of a single-shot vaccine: "The real advantage of a single shot is that people only need to get one needle. There's a public health advantage as well, as U.S. vaccination rates for both diseases are relatively low. When we are able to give the two vaccines as one, it could increase vaccine compliance rates, especially for those at highest risk".

Regulatory Pathway and Future Availability

Despite the promising results, there are still several steps required before the combined vaccine can become widely available. Moderna plans to submit the trial data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. If authorized, the vaccine would also need to be greenlit by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before it can be distributed to the public.Moderna is optimistic about the potential timeline for the vaccine's availability. The company aims to bring the combined vaccine to market as early as autumn 2025, although it acknowledges that the rollout could be delayed until 2026.

vaccine bottle
Combined Flu And Covid Vaccine Provokes Higher Immune Response 5

Broader Implications for mRNA Technology

The success of the combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine underscores the versatility and potential of mRNA technology. Moderna has been at the forefront of mRNA vaccine development, and the positive results from this trial could pave the way for other combination vaccines. The company is also exploring mRNA vaccines for other infectious diseases, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Moderna's combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine represents a significant advancement in vaccine technology and public health. By offering stronger immune responses and the convenience of a single shot, this vaccine has the potential to improve vaccination rates and reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses. As Moderna moves forward with regulatory submissions and further studies, the combined vaccine could become a critical tool in the fight against seasonal flu and COVID-19, ultimately saving lives and enhancing public health outcomes.

You may also like

Update Required Flash plugin