Pfizer/BioNTech has started phase 1 trials of a combined jab that it hopes will protect patients against both flu and Covid.
The vaccine combines Pfizer’s quadrivalent modRNA-based influenza vaccine candidate, qIRV (22/23), which is currently in phase 3 studies and the companies Omicron-adapted bivalent Covid-19 Omicron BA.4/BA.5 vaccine.
The news comes as the bivalent vaccine which targets both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the BA.4/BA.5 variants was approved by UK regulators.
It is the second updated booster vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech to be given the go ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and has been approved in those aged 12 and over.
Pfizer’s first Omicron booster and Moderna’s updated vaccine have already been included in this Autumn’s Covid-19 booster campaign.
In the latest version of Pfizer booster vaccine, half of the vaccine (15 micrograms) targets the original virus strain and the other half (15 micrograms) targets Omicron (BA.4-5).
Last week, the company announced updated data for the vaccine reporting around 4-fold higher neutralizing antibody titers against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 sublineages compared to the original Covid-19 vaccine in individuals older than 55 years of age.
It is hoped that a combined vaccine could make immunisation programmes easier for healthcare professionals and patients.
Professor Ugur Sahin CEO and co-founder of BioNTech said: ‘By combining both indications in one vaccine approach, we aim to provide individuals with an efficient way to receive immunization against two severe respiratory diseases with evolving viruses that require vaccine adaptation,’ said.
‘The data will also provide us with more insights on the potential of mRNA vaccines addressing more than one pathogen.’
In 2021 Novavax began clinical trials in its combined flu and Covid vaccine candidate.