The messenger RNA technique could improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines, currently only 40% to 60%.
Pfizer announced on Monday, September 27, that it had made the first injections to test an influenza vaccine in humans using messenger RNA technology, already used in its Covid-19 vaccine. The American biotech company Moderna also stated that it had launched trials of the product in early July.
The Pfizer clinical trial is underway in the United States and will evaluate the safety of one dose of this new vaccine, as well as its immunogenicity (ability to elicit an immune reaction), in healthy people 65 to 85 years of age. It will include a few hundred participants, according to clinical trial details posted on a US government site.
Current flu vaccines use inactivated viruses, a time-consuming process. Therefore, target strains of the constantly evolving virus should be chosen for vaccine development about six months before the start of the seasonal epidemic. The efficacy of the vaccines in use today is generally 40% to 60%.
“The flexibility of messenger RNA technology and its rapid production could allow for a better association with the strain (of circulating virus), greater reliability of supply, and the opportunity to improve the effectiveness of current influenza vaccines,” says Pfizer in your press release.
The World Health Organization estimates that influenza is responsible for about 3 to 5 million cases of serious illness each year and from 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. In addition to influenza, Pfizer said it plans to study the use of messenger RNA technology against other respiratory viruses, as well as against genetic diseases or cancers.