Moderna Pins Hopes on Combined Flu and Covid Jab

A recent trial showed its new 2-for-1 injection was more effective on both illnesses than existing individual shots.

Photo of a Moderna COVID vaccine
Photo by Baltimore County Government via Public Domain Mark 1.0

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That’s the shot in the arm Moderna needed.

Moderna announced promising late trial results on Monday for a combined flu and Covid-19 vaccine. The trial showed the 2-for-1 jab was more effective on both illnesses than existing individual shots. If the company successfully brings the vaccine to market, it could help turn around the fading fortunes of Covid-19 vaccines. 

Two Birds, One Jab

Moderna rode to the rescue during the pandemic alongside companies like Pfizer, BioNTech, and AstraZeneca, producing Covid-19 vaccines at an astonishing pace. As the pandemic abated, however, demand understandably dropped, and the share prices of the companies that made them have mostly taken a steady pummeling. AstraZeneca is the one exception, and it withdrew its Covid-19 vaccine last month. 

Moderna’s share price is down some 67% since its 2021 peak, and by coupling its Covid-19 vaccine with a flu shot, it’s trying to get out of its pandemic funk. It will still be racing against its pandemic-era competitors, though:

  • Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel touted that Moderna is ahead of the game in making the combined vaccine. “Moderna is the only company with a positive Phase 3 flu and COVID combination vaccine,” he said in a statement.
  • Both Pfizer and BioNTech are developing similar 2-for-1 jabs. Bancel told CNBC Moderna is hoping to get the vaccine onto the market by 2025.

Hitchcockian: While Covid may no longer be top of mind, a virus that freaked us out in the 2000s is back on everyone’s minds. Outbreaks of bird flu have prompted the European Union to order 40 million doses of avian flu vaccine this week from manufacturer CSL Seqirus. The Financial Times reported at the end of last month that the US government is close to bankrolling Moderna to research mRNA vaccines for bird flu, and Pfizer might get a look-in as well.