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Moderna logo. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced Wednesday that the first participants have been dosed in an early trial of a seasonal flu vaccine that uses messenger RNA technology.

Why it matters: The blockbuster success of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 has brought new excitement to the promise of the mRNA platform, which may be adapted to train the immune system to fight many other diseases.

  • Moderna's vision is to develop a respiratory vaccine combining seasonal flu, a COVID-19 variant booster and respiratory syncytial virus, exploring different antigen combinations, the company said.
  • Current flu vaccines are approximately 40-60% effective. Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be more than 90% effective.

Details: In its early stages, Moderna's study of its seasonal flu vaccine will include approximately 180 healthy adults above the age of 18.

  • mRNA carries instructions for making proteins from one part of the cell to another.
  • Vaccines that use mRNA can train the immune system to recognize invading viruses.

What they're saying: "We believe that the advantages of mRNA vaccines include the ability to combine different antigens to protect against multiple viruses and the ability to rapidly respond to the evolution of respiratory viruses, such as influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and RSV," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

  • "Our vision is to develop an mRNA combination vaccine so that people can get one shot each fall for high efficacy protection against the most problematic respiratory viruses."

Go deeper: COVID-19 brings a new dawn for messenger RNA vaccines

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 7 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.