Moderna Inc.’s stock slid 5% Friday after the COVID vaccine maker said a trial of a flu-vaccine candidate that uses the same technology as its COVID shot had mixed results and failed to meet one of its goals.
The Phase 3 trial involved 6,102 adults ages 18 and over across Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Panama and the Philippines during the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season.
“While we did not achieve non-inferiority for the Influenza B strains which are more frequent in younger populations, we have already updated the vaccine that we believe could improve immune responses against Influenza B and will seek to quickly confirm those improvements in an upcoming clinical study thanks to the agility of our mRNA platform,” Moderna
President Stephen Hoge said in a statement.
The flu-vaccine candidate is one of five currently being evaluated by Moderna.
The news comes a day after the company said its COVID vaccine would remain available and free of charge for people in the U.S. once President Joe Biden ends the public-health emergencies in May.
That news came after Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called on Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel to testify before Congress on a proposed price increase for the vaccine.
The seven-day average of new U.S. COVID cases continues to fall. It stood at 37,775 on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 9% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was down 8% to 28,795. The average for deaths was 398, down 14% from two weeks ago.
Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• China has declared a “decisive victory” over the COVID pandemic, claiming the world’s lowest death rate. “With continuous efforts to optimize COVID-19 prevention and control measures since November 2022, China’s COVID-19 response has made a smooth transition in a relatively short time,” China’s Politburo Standing Committee said in a meeting on Thursday. Experts, however, have questioned Beijing’s data as coronavirus infections surged across the country after largely being kept at bay for three years, Al Jazeera reported. After the world’s most populous nation abruptly ended its zero-COVID policy in early December, 80 percent of its population of 1.4 billion became infected, a prominent government scientist said last month.
• EU countries have agreed to phase out COVID restrictions on travelers from China that were put in place after China’s reopening, Reuters reported. Health experts from the 27 EU member countries agreed at a meeting on Thursday that they would end the requirement for negative predeparture COVID tests by the end of February, the Swedish presidency of the EU said.
• Boston’s outdoor-dining program, initiated early in the coronavirus pandemic to help drive business at struggling restaurants, has been made permanent, but with some stricter rules to address unique challenges in the city’s North End, the Associated Press reported. Restaurants in most city neighborhoods will be allowed to set up tables on sidewalks and some street spaces as early as May 1, subject to city approval, the administration of Mayor Michelle Wu announced Thursday. Establishments with liquor licenses must pay $399 a month, while those that don’t sell liquor will pay $199 a month.
Here’s what the numbers say:
The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 673.7 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.86 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 103 million cases and 1,117,113 fatalities.
The CDC’s tracker shows that 229.8 million people living in the U.S., equal to 69.2% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots.
So far, just 52.5 million Americans, equal to 15.8% of the overall population, have had the updated COVID booster that targets both the original virus and the omicron variants.