AstraZeneca Shipping its First Doses of Influenza Vaccine

The pharmaceutical company has over 25% more US doses due to the increased anticipation of higher demand because of COVID-19.

AstraZeneca has announced it has begun shipping its influenza vaccine for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. The company has increased production by over 25% due to the belief it will have a higher demand with coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

The nasal-spray flu vaccine is indicated for those ages 2 through 49.

“AstraZeneca has a long-standing commitment to putting the needs of patients first and protecting public health—and this year it is critical given the current pandemic,” Mina Makar, senior vice president, US Respiratory and Immunology at AstraZeneca, said. “To that end, AstraZeneca has increased manufacturing capacity and accelerated vaccine development to ensure we can confidently meet the needs of consumers and the healthcare system.”

In a recent interview, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was asked about the combination of the upcoming influenza season with COVID-19.

“If we get anything that resembles a typical influenza season, there will be complications and confounding," Fauci said. "You have two cocirculating respiratory diseases and it makes it more complicated.”

He postulated getting a vaccination for influenza, could possibly mitigate 1 of the 2 viruses.

In addition, the CDC has repeatedly emphasized the importance of influenza vaccination this flu season to help reduce the burden of disease and the impact of influenza on the healthcare system and other critical infrastructures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the 2020-21 flu season, the World Health Organization and FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended including the A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus, A/HongKong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Washington/02/2019- like virus (B/Victoria lineage), with the addition of B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus for the quadrivalent vaccine.

Other influenza vaccine manufacturers have begun shipping their first round of doses as well.