Moderna combo COVID-19/flu vaccine effective in early-stage trial

(Reuters) -Moderna on Wednesday said its combination vaccine to protect against both COVID-19 and influenza generated a strong immune response compared to individual shots for the viruses in an early-stage study.

FILE PHOTO: Syringes with needles are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Moderna said the combination generated antibodies similar to or greater than currently marketed flu vaccines, and was similar to its previous standalone COVID booster shot against the coronavirus.

The vaccine, called mRNA-1083, appeared to be effective against all four A and B strains of the flu in older adults when compared with widely used flu shots from GSK and Sanofi, according to the company.

Moderna also said the combination was found to be safe and tolerable, and that rates of adverse side effects were similar to those experienced by people who received its COVID-19 vaccine during the study.

The company said it plans to start a late-stage trial for the combination shot later this year.

“It’s hypothetically possible that it could be approved towards the end of the year, but more likely we’re talking about the 2025 fall season for the flu-COVID combination. So two years from today,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in an interview.

Shares of the U.S. biotech company were down almost 2% in morning trading.

TD Cowen analyst Tyler Van Buren said the drop in shares was likely due to ongoing negative sentiment in the fall booster season for COVID-19 and the biotech industry.

“The combo update was positive per our note, so there is nothing fundamental that is obviously dragging the stock down,” he said.

The latest data is based on two arms of a larger study that involved around 1,000 people – one against GSK’s Fluarix in adults aged 50 to 64 and another against Sanofi’s Fluzone HD in people 65 to 79 years of age. Fluzone is the high-dose vaccine for older people.

In September, Moderna announced that its standalone flu vaccine had generated a stronger immune response against all four A and B strains of the influenza virus than available flu shots in a late-stage trial.

Moderna said on the same day that it was scaling down manufacturing of its COVID vaccine to align with lower post-pandemic demand and to help the company hit its target of 75%-80% gross margin growth sooner.

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