- Pfizer and BioNTech on Thursday said their combined COVID-19 and influenza vaccine succeeded in an early study, following closely on the heels of rival Moderna.
- The Phase 1/2 study included healthy adults aged 18 to 64 years old. Researchers found “robust” immune responses to various strains of the flu and COVID-19 with a side effect profile similar to the existing COVID shot, the companies said.
- The companies now plan to move the vaccine into a Phase 3 trial, which should begin in coming months. Moderna, which claimed success for its own combination shot earlier this month, announced the dosing of its first Phase 3 patient on Oct. 24. The company aims to bring its option to the market in 2025.
Makers of COVID-19 shots are fighting to protect sales as the pandemic recedes from public consciousness and prominent figures fuel vaccine skepticism. The companies see the future in combination vaccines, building on a tradition of relatively strong acceptance of yearly flu shots.
Like the flu, COVID-19 appears to peak in the fall and winter, making a vaccine that can fight both viruses at once a natural fit. There’s also a long history of combination vaccines; the childhood vaccination schedule includes a shot for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, as well as one that fights the mumps, measles and rubella.
Pfizer has already begun laying the groundwork for the idea of getting inoculated for both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, recruiting Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for a “Two Things At Once” ad campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Administration’s website also emphasizes the safety and potential convenience of a double vaccine appointment.
Still, early trends this fall suggest that Americans are more willing to get a flu shot than one for COVID-19. For now, Moderna is sticking with an estimate of $6 billion to $8 billion in revenue from its COVID-19 shot for the year. That’s down from about $18.4 billion in sales last year.
Pfizer, meanwhile, said in August that sales of its Comirnaty shot fell to $1.5 billion in the second quarter, compared with $8.8 billion a year earlier. Pfizer is also seeing less demand for its Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19, pushing the company to shave its overall revenue forecast for the year by $9 billion while making plans for cost cuts and layoffs.