Interview Synopsis

Influenza vaccines – next-generation mRNA vaccines & market update

  • Public Equity
  • Healthcare
  • North America

As flu season approaches, COVID-19 has emphasised the discourse on vaccines. While negative vaccine sentiment is more apparent than ever, “the threat of flu within this pandemic has dramatically gone down”, with plummeting cases recorded by the Centers for Disease Control, a former VP at GlaxoSmithKline plc told Third Bridge Forum.

A counterpoint is that “one of the reasons why maybe now flu has not been so high on the agenda is the hesitancy of… [seeking] healthcare interactions, either at your local pharmacy or at your doctor.” However, what is predictable is the fact that flu is unpredictable, the specialist commented.

They went on to explain the four varieties of influenza, as well as the sub-types and which are more likely to mutate. “Those different sub-clades of these things are basically children, they mutate very, very frequently and are, hence, completely unpredictable, and that’s the reason why the WHO [World Health Organization] meets twice a year to determine the preferred composition of quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines for the upcoming… northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere season.”

Despite the fact that flu vaccines are altered twice each year, there is little consumer awareness. “They basically go in there and say, ‘I want the flu vaccine’, and they 

don’t really care what they get.” This, in turn, affects brands, with a question mark over how they differentiate themselves, it was noted. An overview of the main players, as well as the technologies they use, was then covered.

Moving on to mRNA vaccines, the specialist thinks these are a game-changer. “I guess my single word would be amazing, the fact that mRNA has basically now rendered large protein manufacturing infrastructure [obsolete].” After receiving a dose of mRNA vaccines, the protein-manufacturing process within our bodies now replicates what those facilities do. The specialist also explored which companies are looking into this vaccine variety for influenza.

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