mRNA Vaccines Are Taking on the Flu Now

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Gizmodo 08 July, 2021 - 04:10pm 47 views

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140,000 San Diegans Past Due for Second COVID-19 Shot

countynewscenter.com 08 July, 2021 - 05:10pm

More than 140,000 San Diegans who have received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are overdue for their second dose, the County Health and Human Services Agency reports. The recommended spacing of doses is three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine.

A single dose of either vaccine is significantly less effective at protecting people from getting sick, especially against the new variants of the virus, and County health officials encourage those overdue to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Completing the full two-dose series of the vaccine is recommended, regardless of how long ago a person received their first shot.

“A single dose of those vaccines is only 33 percent effective against the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19, which has become the most prevalent strain of the virus in the United States and is likely to become more prevalent locally,” said Denise Foster, R.N., the County’s Chief Nursing Officer and COVID-19 Clinical Director. “San Diegans who are overdue for their second shot should take action as soon as possible to lower their risk of getting or spreading the virus.”

Everyone 12 years and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. Visit coronavirus-SD.com/vaccine for a full list of hours and locations of vaccine sites in the County.

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Argentina announces COVID-19 vaccine supply deal with Moderna

Reuters 08 July, 2021 - 02:53pm

July 8 (Reuters) - Argentina on Thursday announced it will sign a COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement with Moderna (MRNA.O), as the country attempts to speed up the inoculation of its population and sidestep a possible third wave of the coronavirus.

Cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero told Argentina's Congress that a deal would be signed with U.S.-based Moderna on Monday, but did not detail the number of doses being bought or the agreed delivery dates.

Argentina has so far largely built its COVID-19 inoculation program around Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, China's Sinopharm (1099.HK) vaccine and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) vaccine. It has vaccinated 23.7 million of its 45 million inhabitants with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 4.9 million people have received two.

As of Wednesday, Argeninta had registered 4.6 million cases of COVID-19 and 97,000 related deaths. The country is at present seeing a decline in cases after a precipitous second wave that triggered fresh lockdowns.

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Moderna testing mRNA flu vaccine in clinical trial

Fox News 08 July, 2021 - 10:41am

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Moderna has begun testing an mRNA flu vaccine in clinical trials, with the company announcing Wednesday that the first participants had been dosed in the Phase 1/2 study. The vaccine, mRNA-1010, is Moderna’s first seasonal flu vaccine candidate to enter clinical trials and will target influenza A H1n1, H3N2, and influenza B Yamagata and Victoria.  

The company is aiming to enroll 180 participants ages 18 years and older in the trial, and eventually aims to study combination vaccines to target multiple respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and RSV. 

"We are pleased to have begun this Phase 1/2 study of mRNA-1010, our first mRNA seasonal flu vaccine candidate to enter the clinic," Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, said in a news release. "Respiratory combination vaccines are an important pillar of our overall mRNA vaccine strategy. We believe that the advantages of mRNA vaccines include the ability to combine different antigens to protect against multiple viruses and the ability to rapidly respond to the evaluation of respiratory viruses, such as influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and RSV."

Traditionally, annual influenza vaccines see efficacy of between 40-60%, but the new mRNA-based COVID-19 shots saw rates upwards of 90%. Moderna’s COVID-19 jab, specifically, saw 94.1% efficacy in those who had received two doses. 

"Our vision is to develop an mRNA combination vaccine so that people can get one shot each fall for high efficacy protection against the most problematic respiratory viruses," Bancel said. "We look forward to advancing our core modality of prophylactic mRNA vaccines so that we can continue to make an impact on global public health." 

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What do COVID-19 variants mean for Pfizer and Moderna stocks?

USA TODAY 08 July, 2021 - 08:00am

Pfizer and Moderna want their vaccines to be highly effective, but they also hope there's a need for annual boosters. And that's looking more likely.

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The Delta variant is spreading in the US, but the WHO, CDC and local governments have put out conflicting mask-wearing guidance. Here's what we know. USA TODAY

Think back to one year ago. No one knew then whether any of the COVID-19 vaccines in development would actually work. Fortunately, several of them did.

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE, along with its partner, BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX), and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) never experienced the worst-case scenario of their vaccines failing miserably. These companies have gone on to generate billions of dollars in sales for their respective vaccines, and hope to make a lot more money.

But there are some new study results that just might put a damper on how much recurring revenue these vaccines will make. Could Pfizer and Moderna now face their second-worst scenario?

The worst-case scenario for Pfizer and Moderna was that their COVID-19 vaccines wouldn't work. The second-worst scenario might be that their vaccines work too well.

Washington University School of Medicine immunologist Ali Ellebedy led a team of researchers attempting to determine how long the protection provided by messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines would last. Their findings were recently published in Nature magazine.

The key takeaway from this research was that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could provide immunity for years. And while Moderna's vaccine wasn't included in the study, Ellebedy thinks it would likely provide similar longevity because of its similar mRNA approach.

There's a major financial implication with this recent finding for Pfizer and Moderna. If their vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 for years, the companies won't sell nearly as many vaccine doses in future as they will in 2021 and 2022.

Don't write off the prospects for these vaccine stocks too quickly, though. There are several things to consider about the results published in Nature.

First, the study conducted by Ellebedy and his team was really small: Only 41 participants were included. And the lymph-node samples that were key to the team's findings about potential longevity for mRNA vaccines were collected from only 14 people.

Also, the researchers didn't actually prove that any COVID-19 vaccine provided immunity for years. Instead, they extrapolated based on an observation that immune-system cells were being trained to fight SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, for at least 15 weeks after the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Ellebedy and team theorized that memory cells would likely last for years because of this response lasting for months.

More importantly, these findings could be a moot point because of the emergence of coronavirus variants. Even if the mRNA vaccines provide immunity for years against the virus strain that has been prevalent in the U.S., it doesn't mean that they will do so against new strains.

CDC tracking shows the delta variant spreading most quickly in swaths of the country with the lowest rates of vaccinations. USA TODAY

There has been some reason to be optimistic about the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines against new variants, including the highly contagious Delta variant. Studies have found that the mRNA vaccines produce neutralizing antibodies against the emerging variants. One study conducted by Public Health England found an 88% efficacy for two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the Delta variant.

Is this good news for vaccine recipients potentially bad news for Pfizer's and Moderna's hopes of generating strong recurring revenue from their vaccines? Not necessarily. There's some additional bad news for the vaccinated that could be good news for the companies.

The Israeli Ministry of Health recently announced that based on real-world data, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be only 64% effective against the Delta variant. That's much lower than the 94% efficacy for the vaccine reported in May.

On one hand, Pfizer doesn't seem to have any worries that its vaccine is ineffective against the deadly new variant. However, the lower efficacy increases the likelihood that governments will want booster doses and new versions of the vaccines that target the variants.

Pfizer and Moderna want their vaccines to be highly effective, but they also hope that booster doses are needed at least annually. That's the best-case scenario for both companies. And it's a scenario that seems more likely to happen, thanks to the recent data from Israel.

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