Novavax to begin COVID/flu vaccine trials on older Australians

Vaccine maker Novavax has developed a combined COVID-19 and flu vaccine candidate and will soon begin trials on older Australians, with results expected early next year.

Novavax hopes the combination vaccine will be more than the sum of its parts and provide greater protection against both COVID and the flu.

The news is welcome as Australia prepares to enter a new ‘COVID normal’ period of the pandemic. With case numbers still high in the two largest states, any hopes of elimination are long gone.

The vaccination rate is our passport to freedom. Businesses will soon be able to refuse entry to the unvaccinated and premiers have indicated that those who don’t get the jab may find themselves barred from certain locations.

Read: Unvaccinated won’t be granted freedoms, Friday deadline looms

The federal government is preparing a vaccination passport system for international travel.

Evidence is mounting that we will need to have booster shots for COVID in much the same way we have flu shots.

Novavax plans to combine its NVX-CoV2373 COVID vaccine with its influenza shot NanoFlu. An ‘immunologic adjuvant’ – a kind of vaccine amplifier – is then added to the mix to boost the vaccine’s efficacy.

The company said it was keen to begin trials after preliminary tests produced promising results.

Read: Expert says COVID likely to stymie family gatherings this Christmas

“This study is the first of its kind to evaluate the vaccine’s potential to induce a robust immune response … against two life-threatening diseases simultaneously,” says Dr Gregory M. Glenn, president of research and development at Novavax.

“The combination of these two vaccines, which have individually delivered outstanding results with favourable safety and tolerability profiles, may lead to greater efficiencies for the healthcare system and achieve high levels of protection against COVID-19 and influenza with a single regimen.”

The trial will involve 640 healthy older Australians aged between 50 and 70. Participants will have either been infected with COVID before or have received one of the approved vaccines at least eight weeks prior.

Researchers will be looking at the “safety, tolerability and immune response” of the two vaccines mixed together. Novavax says it expects results of the trials during the first half of 2022.

In other COVID news, a British study has also shown adults who have two doses of a COVID vaccine are 49 per cent less likely to develop the dreaded ‘long COVID’ should they be infected.

Read: Health experts issue a strong warning against mixing vaccines

“Vaccinations are massively reducing the chances of people getting long COVID,” says Professor Tim Spector, co-author of the British study.

“Whatever the duration of symptoms [people have], we are seeing that infections after two vaccinations are also much milder, so vaccines are really changing the disease and for the better. We are encouraging people to get their second jab as soon as they can.”

The COVID/flu combo shot is just one of the new drugs being designed to help fight the pandemic. Two new peptide-based drugs that aim to slow the spread of the virus through the body after infection are being developed by scientists in Queensland.

Would you be comfortable taking part in this trial? Does it make sense to combine COVID and flu shots? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer



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