Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, is one of seven vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). The vaccine uses the company’s pioneering mRNA platform, which is a relatively new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. On September 9, Moderna announced they had “promising pre-clinical data” on a new 3 in 1 shot. The newly developed vaccine would protect against three respiratory diseases—COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the flu.
Moderna’s 3 in 1 shot is a combination of six different mRNAs—one strain of COVID-19 and RSV, and four strains of flu. The company also announced it was developing another vaccine, this one being a combination of a COVID vaccine booster and a flu 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. We are making progress on enrolling patients in our rare disease programs, and we are fully enrolled in our personalized cancer vaccine trial,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer, Moderna, in the statement.
A 3 in 1 shot that could protect against not only COVID-19 but RSV and the flu, has the potential to be a groundbreaking development. That said, mRNA vaccines have been the target of much misinformation and conspiracy theories throughout the pandemic. To understand the magnitude of Moderna’s 3 in 1 shot, as well as its safety, it’s important to understand what mRNA vaccines are, and what they are not.
What Are mRNA Vaccines?
mRNA vaccines are a relatively new type of vaccine that helps protect against infectious diseases. That said, these types of vaccines are not new to the scientific world. mRNA vaccines have been studied for nearly 30 years. But, how do they work?
mRNA vaccines work by teaching your cells how to create a protein, or parts of a protein, that triggers an immune response. One of the greatest benefits of mRNA vaccines is how this process happens. Unlike a viral vector vaccine, such as the measles vaccine, use a modified version of the virus to produce antibodies. An mRNA vaccine instead contains instructions that teach the body to build its antibodies, without having to come in contact with the virus.
The word mRNA has caused many to believe that the vaccine somehow interacts or changes your body’s DNA. This is simply not true. mRNA vaccines operate jelly-like cytoplasm that fills the cell. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions. It does not enter the nucleus, which is where your DNA is stored, nor is there any mechanism by which it could interact with your DNA.
mRNA vaccines are a monumental step in the fight against infectious diseases. This type of technology has not only saved millions of lives during the COVID-19 pandemic but could also save millions more if a 3 in 1 shot proves to be effective.
Could a 3 in 1 Shot Work?
Combining different vaccines isn’t a new phenomenon. Infants receive an MMR shot that combines measles, mumps, and rubella. They also get DTP shots for diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus. The annual flu shot is a mixture of what scientists believe to be the most virulent strains of influenza that season.
According to a tweet sent out by Moderna, their 3 in 1 shot for COVID, RSV, and the flue was able to induce “strong antibody responses in mice against all constituents.” The trick to combining vaccines is figuring out the genetic sequence for each virus. Once that’s done, it’s relatively easy to make the mRNA that codes for those particular pieces of virus strains.
In the same aforementioned statement released on September 9, Moderna announced that several vaccines utilizing its mRNA platform are in the pipeline.
One of the potential vaccines is a pediatric shot that would combine Moderna’s RSV vaccine, hMPV (Human metapneumovirus) vaccine, and its Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) vaccine. All of the potential vaccines being developed by Moderna have shown “promising results” in early trials.
“We believe our mRNA platform can solve the world’s greatest health challenges, from diseases impacting millions to ultra-rare diseases impacting dozens, to medicines personalized down to the individual level,” said Bancel.
The company’s quadrivalent seasonal Flu candidate (mRNA-1010) is another strong contender for phase 2 trials. The vaccine includes H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B Yamagata and Victoria lineages into one dose. The RSV vaccine being developed has also ready for phase 2 trials, which is expected to be tested on nearly 34,000 participants by the end of 2021.
Is Moderna Working on a Booster Shot for COVID?
Yes, Moderna is currently working on producing a COVID vaccine booster. Moderna has been seeking FDA approval for the third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. One of the vaccines being developed by Moderna is a COVID booster shot combined with the flu shot. This 2 in 1 vaccine booster was announced alongside the 3 in 1 shot although it has not begun phase 1 testing as of yet.
“What we’re trying to do at Moderna actually is to get a flu vaccine in the clinic this year and then combine our flu vaccine to our Covid vaccine so you only have to get one boost at your local CVS store … every year that would protect you to the variant of concern against Covid and the seasonal flu strain,” Bancel said in April.
With flu season closing in, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that everyone be vaccinated against the flu by the end of October. This timeline is set to overlap with the period that most Americans will start to become eligible for their booster dose for COVID-19.
Currently, all individuals who have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for their third dose come September 20, 2021. It is expected that Moderna will receive the FDA’s approval for a third dose sometime in late October or early November.
Have You Heard About the 3 in 1 Shot From Modera?
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