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Combination flu and coronavirus vaccines a promising new development

Combination flu and coronavirus vaccines a promising new development

Gaining protection against two awful viruses at one time with a combination vaccine could mean less pokes in the arm and more convenience in the years to come when we will need it most.

Both Cambridge’s Moderna and Maryland-based vaccine developer Novavax have a combo vaccine in the works to fight influenza and coronavirus, two diseases that we know are seasonal and needlessly kill thousands of people.

Moderna’s single-dose booster shot encodes for COVID’s spike protein, and influenza’s proteins as well. The development was announced by the company’s CEO during an annual research and development day hosted earlier this week.

Novavax has already started a clinical trial of its combo vaccine in 640 adults age 50 to 70. The vaccine combines two existing shots, Novavax’s NanoFlu and a coronavirus vaccine called NVX-CoV2373.

Neither of Novavax vaccines has been cleared for use by the FDA yet, though the combo shot showed robust immune responses to both influenza and coronavirus in preclinical studies, according to the company.

Dr. Alysse Wurcel, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medial Center, said, “The minute you start combining vaccines, it’s very helpful. … I think combination vaccines are great.” She noted we already have some combo vaccines, such as a shot for both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

Wurcel said the mRNA technology that has proven to be so successful in beating back coronavirus is changing the way we think about vaccines and coming up with new and exciting developments.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare, chief medical officer of PhysicianOne Urgent Care said anything that makes it easier for patients to get vaccinated is good news.

“A combination vaccine that will require one injection instead of two means one less needle stick and one less ‘ouchie’ — and who wouldn’t want that,” Kenkare said.

We already know that the flu isn’t going anywhere, and unfortunately we’re learning that coronavirus isn’t leaving us either.

Having a combination shot that could offer protection during peak flu and COVID season could be the wave of the future that has potential to prevent hospitalization and death in vulnerable people, or even help others get through the winter without being couched for a week or two with terrible symptoms.

As we move forward and hopefully move on from the pandemic, new developments in vaccination could start to create a menu of options for folks. We are already seeing it with the choice of three excellent coronavirus vaccine options.

The options might be confusing or complicated for some, but adding to the menu with things like a combination vaccine could be helpful in the long run.

The combination vaccines from Moderna and Novavax won’t hit the market in time for this upcoming flu season, but it’s an exciting development worth monitoring going forward.

Cohan: Combination flu and coronavirus vaccines a promising new development