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29 Mar 2021

Setting it Straight: COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines: Part 4 – the future and other formulations

As summarised last week (#49) the new era vaccines – including the PfizerBioNTech (BP) mRNA and AstraZeneca (AZ) adenovirus-vectored product (#43, #44) being deployed in Australia – to limit the prevalence of severe COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 - seem to be more effective than the more traditional ‘killed’ whole virus, viral subunit or live attenuated products (#46) used to reduce the toll of that old plague, influenza. That’s not to decry the importance of being vaccinated against influenza, particularly for the elderly (also at major risk from COVID-19) and the very young (relatively spared by COVID-19) as many lives have been saved over the decades. And there’s also the caveat that a COVID-19 vaccine is targeting only one, relatively stable virus, while the flu vaccine is asked to deal with three or four influenza A or B strains each of which mutates at a much higher rate than SARS-CoV-2. Still, even if we limit the discussion to one flu strain, we don’t see 90 per cent efficacy for flu vaccines.

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