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Moderna Plans To Launch A Combined Booster Shot Of COVID-19-Flu-RSV By Late 2023: Things To Know

Stéphane Bancel, who is the CEO of pharmaceutical company Moderna, said in a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the company is soon planning to launch a combined booster vaccine shot of COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by the end of 2023 or say, before the start of the winter season of the year.

He said that a single annual booster vaccine of COVID-19, flu and RSV will be convenient for people who don't want to get two or three vaccine shots a winter. So, a combined dose of all the aforementioned infectious diseases will make sure that people get their vaccines on time.

He added that currently, the RSV program is in phase 3 and the flu program is in phase 2. So, in the best-case scenario, the vaccine could be ready by the fall of 2023. [1]

"I don't think it would happen in every country, but we believe it's possible to happen in some countries next year".

What To Know About The Flu Vaccine?

Flu is caused by influenza viruses that belong to the Orthomyxoviridae RNA virus family. It is divided into three types based on antigenic difference: influenza A, influenza B and influenza C.

Most of the seasonal flu epidemics are caused by influenza A and B viruses and result in millions of deaths worldwide. Influenza A virus is responsible for influenza pandemics at unpredictable intervals. [2]

The host for Influenza A virus could be migrating pigs, horses, birds and humans. The transmission between humans is mainly due to fomites (materials or objects such as furniture and clothes that carry infections). In the transmission of the influenza B virus, only human hosts are involved. Influenza C causes mild disease.

According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is required every year due to two main causes. Firstly, to boost a person's immunity as the effectiveness of the vaccine declines over time and secondly, to protect against the mutated influenza viruses.

What To Know About The RSV Vaccine?

RSV vaccine is given to protect against the respiratory syncytial virus that easily spread by contact with saliva, mucus or other respiratory droplets.

Young children and people with a compromised immune system are at increased risk of the infection. Symptoms of RSV include fever, chest congestion, difficulty breathing, cough, wheezing and runny nose, which typically begins within 3-7 days of the virus exposure. [3]

Currently, there is no approved vaccine for RSV but there are many promising vaccines that are under clinical trials. Medications such as palivizumab are available to reduce the symptoms and severity of the infection.

What To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccine?

According to COVID-19 vaccine statistics, around 392 crores of people are fully vaccinated, which is estimated to be 50.3 per cent of the population.

Along with that, there are around 36 countries that are now administering booster doses to fully vaccinated populations.

Vaccine boosters are administered because, over time, the effectiveness of the vaccine declines and a booster vaccine may help restore the immunity in the body to the required levels.

What Will Be The Effectiveness Of The Combined Vaccine Booster?

As the vaccine is still in the trial phase, currently, there is no data available on the effectiveness of the combined vaccine of COVID-19, flu and RSV.

"We're hoping in the March timeframe we should be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out the next step forward."

The vaccine is still in the phase 3 trial. The other details about the vaccine are not out yet, other than its timeline for the release, which is by the next year.

To Conclude

The COVID-19 pandemic may extend for the long term. As per a WHO official, the virus may end up becoming a part of the ecosystem. Therefore, to ensure the protection of people against the virus, vaccines must be administered on the entire population.

With other seasonal viruses like influenza and RSV, the COVID-19 may cause many fatalities. Therefore, a combined vaccine dose for all these three virus types can hopefully help reduce mortality and morbidity and may also lower public health emergencies.