Moderna announced Thursday that it had begun developing a possible vaccine that combines a COVID-19 dose and a seasonal influenza shot.
“Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single-dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a news release.
A timeline for the research, development, and release of the combined vaccine was not provided by the firm.
Despite the lack of details, the company’s stock price jumped by more than 7 percent when it made the announcement.
Bancel said during a presentation Thursday that it is a “large opportunity” for Moderna to “bring to market a high efficacy pan-respiratory annual booster.” He added, “We believe Moderna could be first to market in this important new opportunity.”
Earlier this month, Moderna petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve its third dose, known as a booster, of the COVID-19 vaccine. The booster would be administered six months after a person receives their second dose of the mRNA vaccine.
While the United States is slated to start rolling out boosters and has set a Sept. 20 date, the World Health Organization’s director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, called for a moratorium on boosters until the end of this year.
“We have been calling for vaccine equity from the beginning, not after the richest countries have been taken care of,” Tedros said at a Wednesday news conference, sharply criticizing the United States and other countries that are deploying and developing boosters. “I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers.”
The FDA, meanwhile, granted Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine full approval, while Moderna’s vaccine is still being administered via emergency use authorization.
Moderna isn’t the only firm that is attempting to combine a COVID-19 and influenza vaccine. This week, pharmaceutical firm Novavax started a clinical trial in Australia of its own shot, with results expected to be released next year.
Over the past several weeks, Japanese officials have raised questions about Moderna’s vaccine after finding metallic particles in a batch of its COVID-19 vaccines. Three individuals who received the vaccine died after receiving the vaccine, the Japanese Ministry of Health has said, although the causes of their deaths are under investigation.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Reuters contributed to this report.