PFIZER launches mRNA flu vaccine trial
US pharmaceutical company Pfizer said Monday it had begun a clinical trial to test an influenza vaccine designed with the same mRNA technology behind its successful Covid-19 shot.
The idea is to improve on the current generation of flu vaccines that have an efficacy of 40-60 percent against a disease that can cause up to 650,000 deaths a year.
“The Covid-19 pandemic allowed us to deliver on the immense scientific opportunity of mRNA,” Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research at Pfizer, said in a statement.
“Influenza remains an area where we see a need for vaccines which could result in improved efficacy in any given season, and we believe mRNA is the ideal technology to take on this challenge.”
The early stage study will recruit more than 600 Americans aged 65 to 85, according to a company statement and a government website listing the trial.
Specifically, Pfizer wants to compare the safety and level of immune response of a single, double and quadruple strain mRNA vaccine at different dosage levels versus a conventional, licensed quadruple strain vaccine.
Conventional seasonal flu vaccines are generally cultured by growing the virus inside chicken eggs or mammalian cells.
The viruses are inactivated and processed to be turned into vaccines.
The process is fraught with challenges, including producing vaccines that evoke a strong response and keeping up with virus strain changes.
Experts have to predict the best match for next season’s vaccine six months out.
The promise of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic) acid technology is that they only require the genetic sequence of the virus, or a specific part of it, enabling faster and more flexible production.
The human body reads the genetic code and produces virus-like cells that train the immune system to be prepared for the real thing.
Pfizer began work on its mRNA influenza vaccine in 2018 with its German partner BioNTech, which would receive a royalty upon approval and commercialization.
In the future, Pfizer plans to explore mRNA medicine against other respiratory viruses, cancer and genetic diseases.
Moderna likewise is working on an mRNA flu vaccine and one against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, Has Been Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer
This follows his transfer to a medical facility in December
The new comes from a letter he wrote:
French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
French President Emmanuel Macron faced significant criticism for his comments claiming that he would like to “piss off” unvaccinated individuals.
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
Boston Mayor Wu Relentlessly Heckled As New COVID-19 Restrictions Are Announced
Boston unveils the ‘Be Together’ initiative, requiring full vaccination for entry to restaurants, gyms, and sports arenas for anyone 12 and older. In March the mandate will phase-in for younger children.