Covid: what is the new bivalent vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer, how effective, for whom, for when?

“New generation” anti-Covid vaccines should be used for the vaccination campaign which will begin in the fall in France.

They are announced as the “new generation” anti-Covid vaccines which will make it possible to fight the pandemic more effectively.

Bivalent vaccines that attack both the ancestral strain of the virus responsible for Covid and its variant Omicron for superior and long-lasting protection.

The famous messenger RNA technology

Both Moderna and Pfizer have once again used the messenger RNA technology which makes it possible to inject copies of the virus but completely harmless into the cells so that they transmit information in order to produce proteins in order to protect themselves from Covid.

“With messenger RNA vaccines, the idea is to let our cells themselves manufacture the component against which our body will learn to defend itself”, as Inserm points out.

And even if the researcher and infectiologist, Karine Lacombe was rather reassuring this Wednesday, September 14 during a conference by declaring that after more than two years, “We are emerging from the pandemic”, she specifies: “But not from the endemic”.

“And the vaccine is one of the pillars of the fight against Covid,” she added.

New 2-in-1 vaccines

But the virus having mutated, it was therefore necessary to adapt the vaccine to the Omicron variants (which was not the case until then), so that it would be all the more effective by targeting the variants which are dominant and circulating.

The researcher therefore explained that “The effectiveness of this new vaccine depends on the circulating strain, the closer the circulating strain is to the variant targeted by the vaccine, the more effective the vaccine will be.

Moderna and Pfizer laboratories have therefore evolved their initial vaccine and have thus developed a so-called bivalent vaccine which combines two strains of the virus, one strand that codes for the ancestral strain and another strand that codes for the Omicron strain.

Higher and longer lasting efficiency

The results that flow from the data are conclusive. While the bivalent vaccine was originally made with Omicron’s BA.1 strain, the serum is very effective on the BA.1 (which is no longer the dominant one in France), but also according to Arnaud Chéret medical director Moderna France on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

“With the vaccine that targets the Omicron sub-variant, BA.1, we have significant efficacy on all of the Omicron variants.”

By the way Pfizer has already released a bivalent vaccine combining the ancestral strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 variants and Moderna intends to do so as well.

But for Moderna it will not be for the time being that proposed during the vaccination campaign which will open in the fall.

And novelty also conferred by this “new generation” vaccine is its “sustainability”. Protection against the virus is longer with the bivalent vaccine.


The two bivalent vaccines offered by Moderna and Pfizer targeting the BA.1 subvariant were, on September 1st, authorized by the European Medicines Agency, the EMA.

And this Monday, September 12, the regulator also approved Pfizer’s vaccine targeting Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. These are therefore three bivalent vaccines authorized, two for Pfizer and one for Moderna for the moment.


Sandra Fournier, the general manager France of Moderna announced this Wednesday, September 14: “Everything is ready. The doses are on French territory. There is no more wait for authorization from the High Authority for Healthso that the doses are delivered very quickly to the pharmacies.”

This vaccine approved at European level from the age of 12 as a booster dose will be available in pharmacies in a 5-dose bottle.

With the flu vaccine campaign starting October 18booster doses for eligible individuals will be encouraged.

But for the moment, no precise date of placing on the market has been advanced.

Who will be affected?

In the July 19 opinion of the Scientific Council, this vaccination “could be open to people under 60 from the fall”.

Today, people eligible for a fourth dose are those over 60 whose last injection dates back more than six months, pregnant women and all people at risk.

Annual reminder?

What about reminders… How many reminders of these vaccines are planned?

Arnaud Chéret of Moderna, like Karine Lacombe for that matter, are both counting on annual boosters like for the flu virus.

Indeed, with these “new generation” vaccines the duration of protection is longer. It will just be necessary to adapt the serum each year to the variant in circulation.

A vaccine combining influenza and Covid in clinical trials

Moreover, to facilitate reminders, Moderna has already made good progress on a next vaccine combining protection against influenza and against the Covid virus.

A single annual dose for optimal protection.

But the serum made by Moderna is currently entering clinical trials.

Moderna’s complaint against Pfizer

Recall that at the end of August, Moderna filed a complaint against Pfizer for patent infringement on technologies essential to its messenger RNA vaccine against Covid-19. . In a press release, the laboratory specifies: “Moderna is convinced that the Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech against Covid-19 infringes patents filed by Moderna between 2010 and 2016”.

Moderna thus accuses the competing laboratory of having copied two of his patents deposited well before the Covid, one in 2010, the other in 2016, to manufacture its messenger RNA vaccine.

But Moderna does not want Pfizer to withdraw its vaccine from the market. The company is asking for financial compensation.

Leave a Comment