At a time when the US is combating multiple viral infections like Covid, RSV, Influenza, etc, Moderna is planning to bring out a combination vaccine for preventing both Covid and Influenza.
When healthcare experts and researchers are discussing the possibility of creating a booster shot for Covid annually, Dr. Jacqueline Miller, senior vice president of Moderna asks why we need to produce separate booster shots for covid and influenza. She says that if covid becomes an endemic disease then it’s better for people to get a single shot that would provide resistance to covid and influenza.
Combination Vaccine For Flu And Covid-19
As influenza is a seasonal infection, the chances of getting infected are high and under the current circumstance, covid is also not leaving anytime soon.
Dr.Paul Goepfert, Director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at the University of Alabama, Birmingham also welcomed this idea of a combination vaccine for covid and flu as this would create a lot of conveniences. But he said that there is no common consensus as of yet on whether covid booster shots need to be created.
Dr.William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee also supports the idea of a combination vaccine. He observes that the idea of combination vaccines isn’t anything new and it has been used in the pediatric area for a long time.
The diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been used by the general public for years. Schaffner said that combination vaccines are a better choice for countering the “pin cushion effect”, which means that the general public finds it convenient to take a single shot rather than getting vaccines quite often.
It also reduced the frequency of doctor visits and made it easier for officials to handle and manage supplies. He also made an important point that influenza shots and covid shots are already given separately and they are not known to create any mutual reactions when given together at the same time.
Miller said in her speech given on vaccine day in April that one of the core pillar strategies of Moderna is to create combination vaccines for respiratory diseases and these vaccines would provide resistance for almost a year.
She observes that other than providing major benefits of preventing wintertime infections that lead to time off school and work, the vaccine would be a lifesaver for young kids and older adults as a lot of hospitalization cases can be avoided. This would also lead to less stress in the healthcare sector as well.
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According to Goepfert, the mRNA vaccines are easily adaptable and hence if there are instances of the formation of new virus strains, the vaccines can be tweaked to make them more efficient to combat these new variants.
Schaffner mentioned that there are possibilities of minor side effects with the vaccines but these won’t be a matter of concern as more studies would be done to reduce this and the public needs to be informed regarding the safety factor too. He said that the public has forgotten about the flu virus because of the whole pandemic scenario.
They need to be reminded that flu viruses can also be dangerous. During Covid, the cases of flu infections drastically reduced because of the safety precautions like wearing masks, using sanitizers, etc. but still, they didn’t go away.
So Moderna is looking at creating an efficient vaccine that can tackle these multiple viral infections in a single shot. In this regard, they are also looking at creating a vaccine for the Respiratory Synciatic Virus (RSV) into the combination vaccine so that it becomes a “three-way fighter”.
🔵Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (n.d) Getting a Flu Vaccine and a COVID-19 Vaccine at the Same Time (Available On):https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/coadministration.htm
🔵National Library Of Medicine (n.d) COVID-19 and Seasonal Influenza Vaccination: Cross-Protection, Co-Administration, Combination Vaccines, and Hesitancy (Available On):https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8952219/
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