Moderna said Wednesday that it has begun testing a flu vaccine as it seeks to expand the uses of the mRNA technology used in its COVID-19 vaccine.
The first participants in an early-stage study have received the mRNA flu vaccine candidate, the company said, and it plans to enroll about 180 people.
The company said mRNA technology could provide advantages over the current flu vaccine technology, which is only about 40 to 60 percent effective and takes months to prepare.
An mRNA flu vaccine could also be combined with other vaccines, including for COVID-19, to allow one shot to provide protection from multiple viruses.
“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,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, said in a statement.
Moderna has also been exploring the possibility of a modified COVID-19 vaccine targeted at variants of the virus, though the original vaccine has so far held up well against the different variants that have appeared.
The company in May reported early positive data from a modified vaccine aimed at a variant first identified in South Africa known as B.1.351.