Pfizer starts early-stage trial of combined Covid/flu vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has launched an early-stage study of a combined Covid/flu vaccine.

The firm, which is partnering with BioNTech, said the first patient was given a dose this week of the vaccine, which combines a flu shot and Pfizer’s bivalent Covid vaccine designed to tackle the Omicron variant.

The phase 1 study, to be carried out in the US, is recruiting 180 people aged 18 to 64, who will be followed up for six months.

The study will look at the safety of the combined jab, how effective it is and also whether patients suffer any side-effects.

Annaliesa Anderson, chief scientific officer in vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said the vaccine was based on the mRNA technology used for Pfizer’s pandemic jab.

“The flexibility and manufacturing speed of the mRNA technology has demonstrated that it is well-suited for other respiratory diseases,” she said.

“Pfizer is deeply proud of our continued work to explore its potential to protect against influenza and Covid-19 in one combination vaccine, which we think could simplify immunisation practices against these two respiratory pathogens, potentially leading to better vaccine uptake for both diseases.

“Even with existing seasonal influenza vaccines, the burden of this virus is severe across the world causing thousands of deaths and hospitalisations every year.

“This is an exciting step in our ongoing journey with BioNTech as we collectively look to transform the prevention of infectious diseases around the world.”