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askST: What you need to know about Moderna's COVID-19/flu vaccine combo

askST: What you need to know about Moderna's COVID-19/flu vaccine combo
askST: What you need to know about Moderna's COVID-19/flu vaccine combo


SINGAPORE – Moderna said on June 10 that its combined COVID-19 and influenza vaccine demonstrated better antibody responses than the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines given separately, based on a Phase 3 clinical trial.

ST considers what this means.

Q: Is it better to get the Moderna 2-in-1 vaccine or get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine separately?

answer: In terms of convenience, one dose is better than two. In terms of efficacy, based on trial results, the Moderna combination vaccine appears to offer good protection for seniors against both influenza and COVID-19.

The trial will involve 8,000 people in two groups, half of whom will be between 50 and 64 years old. The rest were 65 or older.

Moderna said that in both cohorts, its combination vaccine “elicited statistically significantly higher immune responses against the three influenza virus strains. It also demonstrated superior responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

“Compared to the seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine, the higher antibody titres against the influenza virus achieved by this combo mRNA vaccine may provide more effective protection against severe influenza,” said Professor Oi Eng Eong, an emerging diseases expert at Duke-NUS Medical School.

In addition, the mRNA influenza vaccine “may be more effective at boosting killer T cells (cells that kill infected cells and prevent the disease from becoming severe) than inactivated vaccines.”

Q: What about the cost? Will it be more expensive?

answer: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has recommended that older adults get vaccinated against both influenza and COVID-19.

These vaccinations will be provided free of charge to Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 65 and above, or those who need to be vaccinated for health reasons, such as those who are immunocompromised or HIV positive.

Free flu vaccines are available to eligible people under the HealthierSG scheme.

Therefore, if the Ministry of Health decides to purchase the combination vaccine, it will likely be provided free of charge to those eligible.

Professor Sue Lee Yang, an infectious disease expert at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said he expects the combination vaccine will be “competitively priced” with existing vaccines, so it won't be too expensive for people who have to pay for their own vaccination.

His colleague Prof Alex Cook said the price of the vaccine was only a small part of the cost – which also included the staff costs of administering two doses of the vaccine, as well as people's time and travel.

But Professor Dale Fisher, senior infectious diseases consultant at the National University Hospital, said people who want to get the flu and Covid-19 vaccinations separately could do so at the same time.

“There are no overlapping side effects, it's just as effective and more convenient,” he noted.

Q: So will Singapore be administering the dual vaccine?

answer: It's too early to tell at this point, as clinical trials have only recently concluded, and it will likely be at least a year before a vaccine is commercially available. Moderna has said it plans to have it ready in time for the northern hemisphere winter of 2025.

Prof Cook said one advantage of the combination vaccine is that it would encourage a higher proportion of people to get vaccinated against flu, which kills more people in Singapore than Covid-19 – about 50 people a month.

But not everyone who is eligible for the free flu vaccine gets it every year.




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