Biotech firm Moderna said Thursday it will begin developing a vaccine for the influenza season.
“We are announcing that we are increasing our investment in vaccines and we will develop a seasonal flu vaccine given the unmet need for highly effective vaccines,” CEO Stephane Bancel said in a press release.
Influenza has resulted in 9 million to 45 million illnesses annually since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderna noted that vaccines generally reduce the risk of getting influenza by 40% to 60% compared with people who aren’t inoculated.
The vaccines also “face significant challenges from strain mismatch,” Moderna said. High-risk groups, such as the elderly, would likely benefit from a highly effective vaccine, which Moderna says its technology platform is capable of delivering.
Moderna is also in late-stage testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine. The company’s vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, which scientists hope provokes the immune system to fight the virus.
Bancel told CNBC the company should have enough data from its late-stage trial to know whether its coronavirus vaccine works in November.
The company could have enough data by October, but that’s unlikely, Bancel said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “If the infection rate in the country were to slow down in the next weeks, it could potentially be pushed out in a worst-case scenario in December.”
The company has enrolled 25,296 people in the trial as of Wednesday and expects to enroll up to 30,000 participants.