Moderna is aiming to launch a single booster vaccination that will protect against both Covid-19 and flu within two years, its chief executive has said.
Stéphane Bancel said that the combined vaccine – which will protect against Covid-19, influenza and RSV, a common respiratory virus – could be available before the winter infectious season in 2023.
“Our goal is to be able to have a single annual booster so that we don’t have compliance issues where people don’t want to get two to three shots a winter,” he said at a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “The best-case scenario would be the fall of 2023.”
Last year, the NHS moved to reassure the public that getting jabs for flu and Covid at the same time did not affect the body’s immune response.
The UK government has been encouraging the public to get a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, especially those in more vulnerable groups such as older demographics or those with weakened immune systems. Its efforts include launching a nationwide mobile text message campaign on Boxing Day.
Bancel has previously said that people may need a fourth shot of a vaccine this autumn as protection from booster shots declines over the coming months.
This month, Israel became the first country in the world to offer a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine to people aged 60 and over.
The US president’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, also speaking at Davos on Monday, said there was no evidence that repeat booster disease would overwhelm the immune system.
“Giving boosters at different times, there is really no evidence that’s going to hinder” immune response, he said.
Fauci said the goal should be a booster that induces a response against multiple potential variants.
Bancel also said Moderna’s vaccine candidate specifically targeting the Omicron variant of coronavirus has almost finished being developed and will enter clinical development imminently. The US drug company expects to be able to share data with regulatory authorities around March, he added.
“The vaccine is being finished,” he said. “It should be in the clinic in the coming weeks. We are hoping in the March timeframe to be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out next steps.”
This month, Darius Hughes, the UK chief executive of Moderna, said it would be a “stretch” for a combined flu and Covid vaccine to be available by winter 2023.
“Our number one priority for 2022, after getting the right Covid vaccine for the Omicron variant, is to try to really drive forward our flu and RSV programmes to see if we can get a combination, single-dose respiratory vaccine,” he said. “The benefit for the NHS, and all the vaccination services, and ultimately patients, we think, is going to be huge.”