Pfizer and Moderna became household names during the COVID-19 pandemic after they rolled out their vaccines for the novel coronavirus. And even though the global health crisis may be over, the two companies believe their work is not yet done.
According to CNBC, Pfizer and Moderna plan to make new versions of their vaccines that would aim to provide broader and longer-lasting immunity against COVID-19. Not only that, but they also want to create jabs that work with other respiratory diseases on top of COVID.
The new vaccines would elevate their roles in public health and simplify how people would coexist with the virus in the post-pandemic era. More than anything, it would help the pharmaceutical companies maintain their pandemic-driven growth.
Now that the public health emergency declaration has expired, vaccine uptake and sales growth are expected to slow. By the fall, Pfizer and Moderna would have to sell their jabs to healthcare providers. The free doses from the government would also run out by then.
To keep up with the big changes, Pfizer and Moderna are developing annual COVID-19 shots instead of frequent booster doses. However, CNBC pointed out that such vaccines may take a few years to complete, and the success of the efforts behind them is not guaranteed.
In April, Medical Daily learned that while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was planning to authorize the second bivalent booster, the government was also contemplating having annual jabs, like the flu shot, to ensure extended protection against COVID-19.
The latest report seemed to confirm that regulators are keen on transitioning toward a flu shot-like model for the COVID-19 vaccines. FDA’s panel of independent advisors is set to convene in June to discuss the next vaccine update for fall 2023.
Both Pfizer and Moderna confirmed with CNBC that their mRNA technology would enable them to come up with vaccine updates for new variants yearly.
Moderna’s therapeutic area head of infectious diseases, Dr. Jacqueline Miller, told the outlet, “One of the greatest things about Moderna is the company’s willingness to lean in, even if it’s not obvious where exactly things will go.”
“The vaccine became proof of the value of mRNA in a pandemic when you need to make something quickly. The speed of that platform – it allows us to do things three times as fast,” added Miller, who helped develop the company’s vaccine.
Meanwhile, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Mikael Dolsten, told CNBC that he’s hoping for the annual shots to improve the public’s view around getting vaccinated. He said yearly jabs could help persuade people to view the vaccines as a “very natural part” of protecting themselves from annual infections, similar to how many people view the flu shots.
“I think of it like the introduction of seat belts for cars. People didn’t want to wear them at first, but over time they realized how much seat belts protect them. Now everyone uses them today. That’s kind of how the vaccine story needs to be reimagined,” Dolsten said.
To better convince people to get the annual COVID-19 shots, the two pharmaceutical companies intend to develop vaccines that target both COVID and the flu. Pfizer is also working on a version that targets both COVID and RSV. The shots will likely become available by 2024 to 2025.
Published by Medicaldaily.com