Tests begin on combined COVID-19 and flu vaccine
Posted on the 11th November 2022
Pharma giant Pfizer has launched an early-stage study of a combined Covid/flu vaccine.
Working with BioNTech, the vaccine will combine the drugmakers’ updated COVID-19 booster targeting the original strain of the COVID-19 virus from 2020 and Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 with the influenza shot in hopes of simplifying the process for vaccinating individuals against both diseases at once.
The company confirmed the first dose of the vaccine has already been administered as part of the phase 1 study.
It is hoped that 180 people will be recruited for the trial, which will look at the safety of the combined jab, its efficacy, and whether patients suffer any side effects.
It comes as Moderna announced it is also testing a vaccine targeting Covid and flu, as well as a triple-shot that also immunizes against RSV that could be available by winter 2023.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both utilize the mRNA technology used to create the original Covid vaccines, allowing greater flexibility and manufacturing speed than traditional vaccines.
It is hoped the combined vaccinations could help encourage greater uptake for both Covid boosters and flu shots.
In the United States, the nationwide roll-out of the updated bivalent booster vaccine that targets Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 began at the start of the autumn.
However, the uptake has been slow, with just 22 million of the 226 million eligible availing of the jab.
Similarly, flu vaccinations are lagging in the US with 128 million distributed to date, compared to the 156 million administered at this time during the first winter of the pandemic, a drop of 18 per cent.
Meanwhile, in the UK, just 13 million have availed of an autumn booster, despite 26 million being eligible for the additional injection.
Some experts now fear millions may not be optimally protected ahead of winter, which will place a further strain on the healthcare system.
Related: Future pandemic plans outlined