Pfizer eyes potential for co-administration of its new Prevnar 20 and the seasonal flu shot
Pfizer has joined the ranks of drugmakers looking to combine seasonal vaccines, revealing new data on Wednesday suggesting its freshly approved 20-valent pneumococcal vaccine can be administered at the same time as the flu shot in older adults.
When received together in a group of volunteers 65 years and older, responses elicited by Prevnar 20 and the seasonal flu vaccine were non-inferior to those elicited by the vaccines when received a month apart, Pfizer said, pointing to new topline data from a Phase III study. The safety profile of Prevnar was similar when the vaccines were taken together versus apart.
“Both Prevnar 20 and the influenza vaccine are important for helping protect adults against pneumococcal pneumonia and the flu respectively; however, vaccination rates decline when someone needs to make multiple appointments to receive these vaccines,” Pfizer Vaccines CMO and senior VP Luis Jodar said in a statement.
Pfizer isn’t the only company chasing this two-in-one approach. Earlier this month, Moderna announced it’s developing a single vaccine that combines a booster dose of its Covid-19 shot with its experimental flu shot. CEO Stéphane Bancel told Endpoints News back in April that the goal is to explore candidates that protect against the flu, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and human metapneumovirus (hMPV).
“This is really the big issue. If you could have a product that had high-efficacy in Covid, high-efficacy in flu and high-efficacy in RSV, you will have a massive impact on public health, and hospitalization and mortality of elderly,” he said at the time.
Novavax — whose experimental Covid-19 vaccine has been hit with multiple delays — also launched an early-stage trial this month testing a combination of its influenza and Covid candidates, and expects data in the first half of next year. GlaxoSmithKline, on the other hand, knows this space well. The pharma won an approval for its Kinrix shot — the first combination vaccine to offer protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio — back in 2008.
Pfizer says more data from its pneumococcal and flu combination trial — which included 1,727 participants — are coming in the future. But in the meantime, it has another trial in the works exploring the co-administration of Prevnar 20 and a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, in adults 65 and older.
Prevnar 20 was approved back in June, beating Merck and its 15-valent shot to the punch. The vaccine covers all 13 strains that its predecessor Prevnar 13 does, plus 8, 10A, 11A, 12F, 15B, 22F and 33F.
There are currently two main types of pneumococcal vaccine: pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPSV). Both contain polysaccharides taken from serotypes of S. pneumoniae bacteria, which cause patients’ immune systems to develop antibodies that will later recognize that polysaccharide.
Merck came out with its 23-valent PPSV, Pneumovax 23, back in 1983. However, PPSVs have been shown to have poor performance in younger children. As a solution, drugmakers have developed “conjugated” vaccines, in which the polysaccharides are attached to a carrier protein.
As Merck and Pfizer duke it out, a 24-valent candidate is in the making that hopes to topple them both. Vaxcyte, formerly known as SutroVax, is in early development with VAX-24 and expects to file an IND in the first half of 2022.