Pfizer, BioNTech launch first phase trial of combination vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza

Pfizer, BioNTech launch first phase trial of combination vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza

Pfizer, BioNTech launch first phase trial of combination vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza

Pfizer and BioNTech have launched a clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza, the companies announced announced Thursday.

The Phase 1 trial is being conducted in the United States with 180 participants aged 18 to 64, and the first participant was dosed this week, the companies said. The follow-up period for each participant will be six months.

Pfizer, BioNTech launch first phase trial of combination vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza

In this Sept. 8, 2022, file photo, a teenager receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn.

Hannah Beier/Reuters

“By combining both indications in one vaccine approach, we aim to provide individuals with an effective way to vaccinate against two severe respiratory diseases with evolving viruses that require vaccine adaptation,” said Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. in the statement.

The combination vaccine is based on the currently available bivalent COVID-19 booster and quadrivalent mRNA influenza vaccine, which is designed to protect against four different influenza viruses.

The phase 1 trial will test the safety, immune response and optimal dose level of the combination vaccine, before moving on to larger trials. The data will also provide insight into the potential of mRNA vaccines to address more than one pathogen, Sahin said.

Annaliesa Anderson, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of vaccine research and development for Pfizer, called this “an exciting step in our ongoing journey with BioNTech as we work together to transform infectious disease prevention around the world.”

“Even with existing seasonal flu vaccines, the burden of this virus is serious worldwide, causing thousands of deaths and hospitalizations each year,” she said in a statement.

PHOTO: In this Sept. 9, 2022, file photo, a man receives a flu shot from a pharmacist during an event hosted by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the Southwest Senior Center in Chicago.

In this Sept. 9, 2022, file photo, a man receives a flu shot from a pharmacist during an event hosted by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the Southwest Senior Center in Chicago.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Studies show that the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine wanes over time, although it is not clear whether every American will need an annual booster shot against COVID-19. While scientists continue to assess the need, several companies are working each fall to create a single shot that protects against both seasonal flu and COVID-19.

In addition to Pfizer, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Novavax have announced plans to work on the combo shot.

Moderna said it expects to begin clinical trials of a single-dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against influenza by the end of the year, with the hope that the vaccine will be available for the 2023 season.

“We believe this is a very big opportunity ahead of us if we can bring a high-performance pan-respiratory annual booster to market,” Moderna COE St├ęphane Bancel said during an investor meeting on September 9.

Last year, Novavax enrolled humans in a Phase 1/2 study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of a combination vaccine using the company’s seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines. A Phase 2 confirmatory trial is expected to begin later this year, the company said in October.

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