Moderna’s mRNA Flu Vaccine Could Be Ready for Next Flu Season

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Sept. 13, 2023 – Moderna announced Wednesday that its experimental mRNA-based flu vaccine creates a better immune response against four influenza strains than the currently approved flu vaccine called Fluarix.

As far as side effects go, Moderna said in a news release that the safety findings were similar to previous studies which found the most common reactions were muscle pain, headache, fatigue, pain, and swelling.

The success in phase 3 clinical trials of the experimental vaccine called mRNA-1010 means Moderna may submit it to federal agencies soon, though the vaccine would not make its way through the regulatory pipeline in time for the 2023-24 flu season in the U.S., CNN reported.

Moderna, which created one of two widely used COVID-19 vaccines, also said it expects the FDA to decide by April on the company’s mRNA-based RSV vaccine for adults 60 and older. 

“Our mRNA platform is working,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in the news release. “With today’s positive phase 3 flu results, along with previous results in Covid and RSV, we are now three for three on advancing respiratory disease programs to positive phase 3 data.”

A flu vaccine using mRNA technology could be produced quicker than current seasonal flu vaccines, making it easier to match a vaccine to battle ever-changing flu strains. 

Traditional vaccines use dead or weakened bacteria to trigger an immune response in our body. With mRNA vaccines – messenger RNA -- genetically engineered molecules trigger a person’s immune system to make antibodies that attack and destroy a virus.

CNN reported that an earlier version of Moderna’s experimental flu shot did not produce a strong immune response against all the flu strains, so the company reformulated the vaccine.