Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Will Cost As Much As A Flu Shot, says CEO Stephane Bancel

KEY POINTS

  • The vaccine candidate will cost between $25 and $37, depending on orders: Moderna CEO
  • The vaccine needs to be administered in two doses
  • Trials of Moderna’s vaccine candidate showed 95% efficiency rates

Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, will cost governments between $25 and $37 per dose, depending on their orders, CEO Stephane Bancel told a German weekly paper.

“Our vaccine…costs about the same as a flu shot, which is between $10 and $50,” Bancel told Welt am Sonntag (WamS), according to Reuters.

Moderna is in discussion with the European Commission to finalize a deal on the supply of millions of doses of its vaccine at a price less than $25 per dose. “Nothing is signed yet but we are close to a deal with the EU Commission. We want to deliver to Europe and are in constructive talks,” Bancel told the paper. He said it would be a matter of days before an agreement is reached.

This would come up to at least $50 per patient, as the vaccine needs to be administered in two doses. Moderna received nearly $1 billion in funds from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the vaccine, as per Forbes.

The cost of this vaccine will be similar to the price of the annual flu vaccine in the U.S., which costs about $40 for people without insurance. It is interesting to note that flu shots have an efficacy rate of 40%-60%, whereas Moderna is claiming that its vaccine candidate showed an almost 95% efficacy rate in trials. The final Phase 3 trials will confirm these results.

When Moderna announced these results, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told NBC News, “These are obviously very exciting results. It’s just as good as it gets… 94.5% is truly outstanding.”

Vaccinations could begin in the second half of December, Fauci said. The vaccine will first be made available to high-risk groups, and for the rest of the population, it will be available next spring.

The government also wants to ensure that everyone can afford a COVID-19 vaccine. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are discussing a rule that as soon as a vaccine is available for the virus and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be made available to seniors and low-income people in public health insurance programs for no cost.

Moderna is the second company to develop a vaccine, following Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, which proved to be 90% effective in its initial trials.

US biotech firm Moderna says its experimental vaccine is almost 95 percent effective in protecting people from the novel coronavirus US biotech firm Moderna says its experimental vaccine is almost 95 percent effective in protecting people from the novel coronavirus Photo: AFP / Joseph Prezioso

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How we celebrated during 1918 flu pandemic

More than 200,000 dead since March. Cities in lockdown. Vaccine trials underway.

And a holiday message, of sorts: “See that Thanksgiving celebrations are restricted as much as possible so as to prevent another flare-up.”

It isn’t the message of Thanksgiving 2020. It’s the Thanksgiving Day notice that ran in the Omaha World Herald on Nov. 28, 1918, when Americans found themselves in a similar predicament to the millions now grappling with how to celebrate the holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Every time I hear someone say these are unprecedented times, I say no, no, they’re not,” said Brittany Hutchinson, assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum. “They did this in 1918.”

On Thanksgiving more than a century ago, many Americans, like today, lived under various phases of quarantines and face mask orders. Millions mourned loved ones. And health officials in many cities issued the same holiday warning: Stay home and stay safe.

Giving thanks for WWI victory, beating pandemic

By late November 1918, the USA – in the midst of the suffrage movement, Jim Crow and the tail end of WWI – battled the ebbing second wave of the H1N1 influenza epidemic, also known as the Spanish flu.

The first cases were detected in the USA in March of that year, growing exponentially by the fall. In October, the virus burned through the nation. Dozens of cities implemented face mask orders and curfews and locked down for two to three weeks, temporarily closing schools, libraries, theaters, movie houses, dance halls, churches, ice cream parlors and soda shops. The virus killed about 195,000 Americans during October alone.

Red Cross Women sit at long tables making influenza masks in Chicago, Illinois in 1918.

Red Cross Women sit at long tables making influenza masks in Chicago, Illinois in 1918.
Image provided by the Chicago History Museum. Graphic by Karl Gelles, USA TODAY.

As Thanksgiving rolled around, some cities celebrated the relaxation of flu-related restrictions – partly due to opposition campaigns by retailers, theater owners, unions, mass transportation companies and other economically stressed stakeholders. Washington, Indianapolis and Oakland, California, had lifted restrictions days before, and San Francisco was on the brink of lifting its mask mandate.

San Francisco had one of the nation’s largest anti-masking campaigns, spearheaded by the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco, according to Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan and co-editor-in chief of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919. Many people refused to wear masks and were arrested, and when the “line into the courtroom was so long, they laid off arresting people because the system couldn’t enforce it,” Markel said.

On Nov. 13, the San Francisco Examiner reported that “Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated in San Francisco by the discarding of gauze masks, if the present rate of decrease in influenza continues.”

A week later, San Franciscans ceremoniously removed their masks as a whistle sounded across the city at noon. “San Francisco Joyously Discards Masks In Twinkling; Faces Beam As Gauze Covers Come Off At Time Fixed,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on its front page

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Flu activity low in Alabama

There is some good health news in Alabama.

While coronavirus cases in the state are ticking up, flu activity is tracking behind last year, according to surveillance data from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

For the week ending Oct. 24, ADPH showed 2 of the state’s eight health districts – the northeastern part of the state and Jefferson County – had lab confirmed flu cases. The remainder of the districts showed no significant influenza. No districts reported significant activity.

For the same week last year, every district except Mobile showed lab confirmed cases. By the next week in 2019, the east central and southeastern districts were already showing significant influenza activity.

Flu rates are also low nationally. Forty nine states, including Alabama, were reporting “minimal” influenza activity. The only state reporting low flu activity was Iowa.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control said 1.2% of patients nationally reported visiting their physician had flu-like illnesses, well below the national baseline of 2.6%.

The exact timing and duration of flu varies each year but activity traditionally increases in October, peaking between December and February and lasting as long as May. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for everyone ages 6 months of age and older.

https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/publications/assets/publichealthdistrictsmap.pdf

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Donald Trump Jr.’s claim about flu deaths is false

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We answer the often searched question: “What are the symptoms of coronavirus versus the flu?”

USA TODAY

The claim: Flu deaths are down to almost zero and data is being manipulated.

Donald Trump Jr. on Oct. 26 retweeted a Daily Mail article about a sharp drop in influenza-related deaths this year.

“We went from 75,000 flu deaths last year in America to almost 0,” he added. “Does anyone actually believe that? Or do you think there may be allocation games being played to manipulate the truth?”

His tweet — which has been seen by tens of thousands of people — was screenshotted and widely shared on Facebook going viral in a post by user Tyler Zed. As of Oct. 30, it has been shared more than 5,400 times and has gathered hundreds of comments. 

Neither Trump nor Zed immediately returned a request for comment.

USA TODAY has previously debunked several claims asserting that different flu seasons were deadlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. These fact-checks have determined that COVID-19 is deadlier than the 2018-2019 flu season, the 1918 Spanish flu and the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Nor have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped reporting flu deaths as COVID-19 has ravaged the country, USA TODAY reporting found.

CDC data does not support Trump’s claim. 

More: Fact check: What’s true and what’s false about coronavirus?

Defining flu season

Flu seasons vary from year to year and don’t have a strict timeline. Last year, flu season was the longest in a decade, lasting 21 weeks.

“In the United States, flu season occurs in the fall and winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May,” the CDC website explains.

To account for this ambiguous period, the CDC releases weekly U.S. influenza summary updates from October through May. The CDC’s first report for the 2020-2021 flu season was posted for the week ending Oct. 3.

It’s too early to tell what this year’s flu season will bring, an epidemic expert said.

“We don’t know yet. We’re hopeful there’s fewer deaths, of course, and I think there are reasons to believe it will be fewer but we don’t really know at this point,” said David Aronoff, professor of medicine and director of the Infectious Disease Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. 

Influenza-associated deaths last year were much lower than claimed

The CDC uses mathematical estimates to retroactively measure the burden of each flu season. 

After each flu season, the CDC considers in-hospital death data and investigates death certificates to account for the total flu deaths. “(B)ecause not all deaths related to influenza occur in the hospital, we use death certificate data to estimate how likely deaths are to occur outside the hospital,” the CDC website explains.

According to the CDC’s 2018-2019 estimates, there were 34,200 influenza-associated deaths from October 2018 to May 2019. For the 2019-2020 season, the CDC has released a preliminary estimate

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Klick Health Rolls Out Mobile Flu Shot Clinics to Employees’ Homes

Company takes its annual flu shot program on the road to help keep its people healthy and happy during pandemic

For the first time ever, Klick Health has taken its in-office flu shot clinic on the road in keeping with its people-first culture and commitment to help keep its team members and their families healthy and happy.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201029006114/en/

A registered nurse gives copywriter Ammie Matte the flu shot in Klick Health’s Mobile Flu Shot Clinic outside her Toronto home on October 28, 2020. Matte is one of hundreds of Klick employees who signed up for the unique program as the company continues to adapt its people-first programs during the pandemic. (Photo: Business Wire)

Klick’s Mobile Flu Shot Clinics are pulling up and parking outside the homes of hundreds of its Toronto-based team members, who signed up for the unique pilot program, over the next two weeks. The company transformed two Sprinter Cargo Vans into flu shot clinics, complete with Registered Nurses, and is working in partnership with leading local medical clinics to administer the flu shots.

“The safety and wellbeing of our team is paramount,” said Chief People Officer Glenn Zujew. “That’s why we’re taking our normal in-office flu shot clinic on the road and are literally rolling it out to hundreds of Klicksters’ homes. It’s another example of our people-first culture and how we’ve been adapting our internal programs with different, out-of-the-box thinking to keep our Klicksters as happy, healthy, and engaged as ever.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Klick has hosted in-office flu shot clinics for several years but decided to adapt the program during COVID-19 for its growing team. Klick has also responded to the pandemic by moving to virtual operations ahead of the curve and adapting all of its communications, training, onboarding, fitness, and other internal programs. In the spring, it launched the Klick Shop, giving every Klickster $500 to spend on desks, ergonomic chairs, monitors, headsets, and other items to help make their work-from-home experience more comfortable.

About Klick Health
Klick Health is the world’s largest independent commercialization partner for life sciences. For over two decades, Klick has been laser focused on developing, launching, and supporting life sciences brands to maximize their full market potential. Follow Klick Health on Twitter at @KlickHealth. For more information on joining Klick, go to klick.com.

About Klick Group
The Klick Group of companies—Klick Health (including Klick Katalyst), Klick Media Group, Klick Applied Sciences (including Klick Labs), Klick Consulting, Klick Ventures, and Sensei Labs—is an ecosystem of brilliant talent collectively working to maximize their people and clients’ full potential. Established in 1997, Klick has teams in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, and across North America. Klick has consistently been

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Free Flu Vaccinations Offered In Austin This Weekend

AUSTIN, TX — Travis County residents will have two convenient opportunities to receive free flu vaccinations on Saturday, Central Health officials said.

With the arrival of flu season, public health officials are urging residents to get their flu shot now — especially as the county and state continue to see an upward trend in cases of COVID-19. While the flu and virus that causes COVID-19 are different viruses, they result in many similar symptoms and can both cause serious health complications, health officials noted. This is especially true for those who are considered high-risk, including individuals with chronic health conditions, the elderly, and pregnant women, officials added. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.

Those who have health insurance should bring their insurance card so their carrier can be billed directly, with no out-of-pocket costs for individuals. Free vaccines are available for those without insurance. Because the flu and COVID-19 are easily spread from person to person, Central Health is also reminding everyone to stay vigilant about wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), washing or sanitizing hands often, and watching their distance with others — keeping at least six feet between themselves and coworkers, close friends and family outside of their household.

EVENTS

Halloween Themed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Distribution

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Ojeda Middle School, 4900 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744.

Del Valle Community Coalition and the Austin Latino Coalition are hosting a Halloween-themed event with walk-up and drive-through options available. There will be free flu shots, PPE and candy for the community. Children must be at least seven years old to receive a flu shot at this event. Additional details here.

The sponsors for this event are Austin Latino Coalition; Del Valle Community Coalition; HEB; Austin Public Health; and Central Health.

Boo the Flu (Drive-thru Event)

Noon to 3 p.m. Travis Early College High School, 1211 E. Oltorf St., Austin, TX 78704.

The annual Boo the Flu event, sponsored by Central Health-affiliated Sendero Health Plans, will take place with strict safety guidelines. Visitors can receive a flu vaccine while remaining in their car, as well as get free PPE and Halloween treats. Additional information can be found here.

The sponsors for this event are Sendero Health Plans; Austin Public Health; Austin Independent School District; Ascension Seton; Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; City of Austin; El Mundo; City of Austin; and Travis County Constable – Precinct 4.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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Flu shot can help prevent ‘twindemic’ of influenza and coronavirus

White Plains Hospital
Published 6:00 a.m. ET Oct. 28, 2020

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, flu vaccination is more important than ever.

How to help prevent a COVID-19 and flu ‘twindemic’ (Photo: Getty Images. Posed by models.)

Flu season has officially begun, and a common fear this year is that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will cause a “twindemic” that could overwhelm the health care system. COVID-19 has been the biggest health concern of the year, but the flu remains a dangerous threat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article written by scientists, up to 61,000 flu-related deaths occur in the United States each year, and up to 810,000 people who get the flu are hospitalized.

Despite the many benefits offered by an annual flu vaccine, less than half of American adults get vaccinated.

“Everyone 6 months and older should get a seasonal vaccination,” said Dr. Michael Zuckman, an internal medicine specialist with White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness in Armonk. “Some people, such as those over age 65, young children and those with underlying health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. Getting vaccinated protects not only yourself but the people around you.”

Flu vaccination facts vs. fiction

Fiction: The flu shot is ineffective

There are many misconceptions about flu vaccination, starting with its effectiveness.

“The vaccination, on average, is about 45% effective each year. Because of that, people look at that percentage and think it’s ineffective,” Zuckman said. “What they may not realize is that number represents the percentage of people who do not have to be hospitalized. If look you at it from that perspective, you can see the value in getting a flu shot.”

Fiction: The flu shot will make you sick

People who forgo getting an annual vaccination often express concern that the shot will give them the flu, or they fear other side effects.

“The vaccine is formulated from dead or inactive viruses, so it will not make you sick with the flu,” Zuckman said. “It is also administered in your arm muscle, which is not an area the flu virus normally reaches.”

Additionally, the CDC has reported that there is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases the risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

The residual effects from a flu vaccination are far less severe than developing the flu itself.

“You might experience muscle aches, a headache or a slight temperature, all of which mimic the flu,” Zuckman said. “The vaccine stimulates the immune system, so, in a way, having flu-like symptoms is a good response. Typically, the symptoms disappear in a day or two.”

Fiction: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year

Having been vaccinated in the past does not necessarily mean you are immune to this year’s strains of influenza. Multiple flu strains circulate in any given year. Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, the previous year’s vaccine may not provide protection from the new strains.

“Research has shown that

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Doctors urge flu shots in light of COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Health experts have urged Americans to get their flu shots this year to help ward off a “twindemic.”

“There’s considerable concern as we enter the fall and the winter months and into the flu season that we’ll have that dreaded overlap” of COVID-19 and the flu, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said earlier this month. 

The U.S. is battling a fresh surge of new coronavirus cases as winter approaches, and hospitals in some western and Midwestern states are filling up with COVID patients. The new rise follows an outbreak of COVID-19 cases that hit the Northeast hard earlier this year, followed by a rise in cases in the South over the summer. 

“We far surpassed what we’re used to with the flu with COVID this spring,” said Dr. Stephanie Sterling, chief of infectious disease at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, in New York. “And to consider COVID plus flu together, this kind of pandemic would be devastating for communities and for healthcare systems.” 

She said we need to do everything we can to prevent the flu. 

“We don’t want a bad influenza season coinciding with a second wave of COVID,” Sterling said. “Flu shots are safe. They do help prevent illness.”

Why is getting a flu shot so important this year? 

“One is to prevent flu illnesses and it’s complications, but the benefit in this current season are resources that would otherwise be needed to care for patients with the flu that would become scarce, could be directed toward the pandemic,” said Dr. Ram Koppaka, a medical officer for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The CDC estimates that last flu season, there were 38 million flu illnesses, 400,000 flu hospitalizations and 22,000 flu deaths. Koppaka said there were also 188 pediatric deaths from influenza. 

An estimated 48% of U.S. adults and 64% of children received a flu vaccine during the same season. Koppaka said the number of flu vaccinations had been increasing prior to COVID-19, but there was still a need for improvement. 

Sterling said that despite communities having a good amount of flu vaccinations, emergency rooms and hospital beds are often overwhelmed during a normal flu season.

This could be a great concern for hospitals in rural areas. Many rural hospitals have limited beds and ventilators, and rural Americans may be at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 due to a range of factors, according to the CDC.

Additionally, the body does not do well fighting two infections at the same time, according to Dr. Jacqueline P. Cooke, a hospitalist at Jefferson Health in New Jersey. 

“The danger with COVID-19 is that the viral infection leads to overwhelming pneumonia and that type of viral pneumonia is what is causing the vast majority of people to need respiratory assistance and ventilation,” she said. 

Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC encourages people six months of age and older to get an annual flu shot. There are different types of vaccines that

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Arkansas reports first flu death of the season

As several areas of the country struggle to contain surging cases of the novel coronavirus, another infectious disease poses a threat to many: the seasonal flu, which has already killed at least one person in Arkansas. 

The Arkansas Department of Health in its most recent weekly influenza report announced the first flu death in the state of the 2020-21 season in a resident who was 65 or older, per the report, which is current as of Oct. 24. No other details were provided. 

Medical experts have urged Americans to remain diligent this year in protecting themselves against the flu amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in the country.  

Medical experts have urged Americans to remain diligent this year in protecting themselves against the flu amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in the country.  
(iStock)

Additionally, since the end of September, some 118 people have tested positive for the flu in the state. At least 11 of the positives were included in the health department’s most recent report. 

Medical experts have urged Americans to remain diligent this year in protecting themselves against the flu amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SAY FLU SHOT IS BEST PREVENTATIVE MEASURE, BUT ONLY THIS MANY WILL GET IT

“It’s particularly important to get vaccinated [against the flu] this year because of the ongoing COVID pandemic: We want people to stay as healthy as possible,” Michelle Lin, an emergency room doctor and professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, previously told Fox News. “Since people are trying to stay home and out of the doctor’s office [and/or] ER, there has been a push to make the vaccine available widely earlier.”

Interestingly, however, the results of a survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID) and conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found that while most participants agreed the vaccine is the best protection against flu, a smaller percentage actually plan to be inoculated.

In a survey of 1,000 adults ages 18 or older from across the country, 68% agreed that receiving the flu vaccine is the “best preventive measure against flu-related deaths and hospitalizations,” up from 61% the year before.

SHOULD YOU GET THE FLU SHOT? WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2020-21 FLU SEASON

But by comparison, only 59% of respondents said they actually plan to be vaccinated against the flu, with 15% saying they are unsure. (For context, 52% of respondents in 2019 said they planned to receive the flu vaccine that year.)

“The flu shot is incredibly important because it reduces your risk of contracting the flu,“ added Lin, noting the vaccine “also reduces your risk for complications and passing it to other people, especially pregnant women, young children and the elderly,” who are more susceptible to the virus.

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U.S. pharmacies attract new flu shot customers as coronavirus surges

By Caroline Humer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, CVS Health Corp and Rite Aid Corp have told Reuters demand for flu shots at their U.S. pharmacies is up sharply – in some cases double from last year – as people try to protect themselves from influenza in the midst of a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.The pharmacies are giving millions more flu shots than they have in past years, filling a gap from COVID-19 wary consumers who are avoiding the doctor’s office. The gains represent millions of dollars in potential profit.

U.S. public health officials have been urging Americans for months to inoculate themselves against the flu, which kills about 60,000 people a year, warning of a potential “twindemic” of influenza and the novel coronavirus that could overwhelm hospitals this winter.

More Americans are choosing to get vaccinated at local pharmacies than in the past, partly due to cancellation of annual “flu shot clinics” in workplaces that remain shut by the pandemic. Walmart <WMT.N> reported increased demand from entire families seeking shots.

“Right out of the gate, we saw much more volume than last August,” Rite Aid Chief Pharmacy Officer Jocelyn Konrad said.

She said the company has been able to keep up with the high demand and has not seen any vaccine shortages.

The shift to pharmacies is a potential boost to the country’s biggest chains that may not yet be factored into many Wall Street earnings estimates.

Cowen & Co said in a research note that the flu demand will increase profit at CVS <CVS.N>, forecasting that it would beat Wall Street estimates when the company reports quarterly earnings on Nov. 6.

Rite Aid <RAD.N> flagged a 40% jump in demand and said last month that increased immunizations will help third-quarter retail profit. Fears of coronavirus infection has led to a decrease in U.S. doctor visits, a decline in new prescriptions and a drop in pharmacy retail sales.

Flu shots are typically covered by commercial insurance and government health plans, or can cost about $40 out of pocket at a pharmacy.

Pharmacies make a gross profit of about $15 per shot, according to healthcare services analyst Brian Tanquilut at Jefferies LLC. In addition, the extra trip to the store may entice customers to purchase other items.

Pharmacies began laying the groundwork for increased flu shot demand early this year, anticipating that a potential second wave of coronavirus cases would push more customers their way. An early Reuters poll showed that 60% of Americans planned to get the flu shot in the fall, up from a more typical 50%. A CVS survey found more people saying they would get the shot at a pharmacy.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc <GSK.L>, Sanofi SA <SASY.PA>, and CSL Ltd’s <CSL.AX> Seqirus, which manufacture flu shots used in the United States, increased production by between 10% and 20% this year for a total of about 190 million shots.

DOUBLING OF DEMAND

The rise in flu shots at pharmacies coincides with an increase in

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