What you need to know about Moderna’s new 2-in-1 vaccine , Latest Health News - The New Paper

What you need to know about Moderna’s new 2-in-1 vaccine

Moderna said on June 10 that its combination Covid-19 and influenza vaccine results in better antibody response than flu and Covid-19 vaccines taken separately, based on its phase-three clinical trial.

ST looks at what this means.

Q: Is it better to get Moderna’s 2-in-1 jab, or separate flu and Covid-19 vaccines?

A: In terms of convenience, doing it once is better than doing it twice. In terms of efficacy, based on the trial results, Moderna’s combination vaccine appears to give better protection to seniors against both the flu and Covid-19.

The trials were conducted on 8,000 people in two groups – half were between 50 and 64 years old, and the rest were 65 and older.

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

Said Professor Ooi Eng Eong, an expert in emerging diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School: “The higher antibody titers (levels) against influenza viruses attained by this combo mRNA vaccine compared to the more seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine may result in more effective protection against severe influenza.”

Furthermore, having an mRNA flu vaccine “would likely boost killer T-cells (cells that kill infected cells, thus preventing severe illness) more effectively than inactivated vaccines”.

Q: How about cost? Will it be more expensive?

A: The Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends that seniors get vaccinated against both the flu and Covid-19.

These jabs are offered free to Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 65 and older, or whose medical conditions require such protection, such as those who are immunocompromised or have HIV.

The free flu vaccine comes under the HealthierSG scheme for those who are eligible.

So, if MOH decides to buy the combination vaccine, it will likely be offered free to those eligible.

Professor Hsu Li Yang, an infectious diseases expert at NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, expects the combination vaccine to be “competitively priced” as it will be compared with existing vaccines. So, it will likely not be pricier for people who need to pay for their own vaccinations.

His colleague, Professor Alex Cook, said the price of the vaccine accounts for just part of the cost. There is the additional labour cost of doing two vaccinations, as well as the person’s time and transport expense.

But Professor Dale Fisher, a senior infectious diseases consultant at National University Hospital, said people who prefer to take separate jabs for flu and Covid-19 could do so at the same time.

“There’s no compounding of side effects, it’s just as effective and more convenient,” he noted.

Q: So will Singapore get the 2-in-1 jab?

A: For now, it is too early to say as the clinical trial was concluded recently. It will be at least a year before the vaccine becomes commercially available. Moderna said it plans to have it out in time for 2025’s Northern Hemisphere winter season.

Prof Cook said one advantage of getting a combination vaccine might come from a higher rate of people getting vaccinated against influenza. In Singapore, more people die from influenza – roughly 50 a month – than from Covid-19.

But not everyone eligible for the free flu vaccine gets his or her jab every year.