We've bought the Moderna which protects you against both Covid and flu, which is a good thing, so get that booster in place.
Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi wrongly claimed that the Moderna booster vaccine protects against both Covid-19 and flu during a recent interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
Mr Zahawi, who formerly held the role of minister for Covid vaccine deployment, said: “We've bought the Moderna which protects you against both Covid and flu, which is a good thing, so get that booster in place."
This isn’t accurate.
A number of Full Fact readers asked us to check this claim after hearing it on the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, and on Monday a spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed to us that in order to be protected against both Covid-19 and flu, people should have two different vaccines—a Covid-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine.
Mr Zahawi’s office later told Full Fact that he had misspoken, and was referring to the bivalent Covid-19 booster vaccine produced by Moderna.
Bivalent in this context refers to the fact that the vaccine targets two different coronavirus variants, the ‘original’ strain and the Omicron variant.
Covid-19 and the flu are caused by two different viruses, and a Moderna spokesperson told Full Fact: “I can confirm the Moderna’s Omicron-containing bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine does not protect against both Covid-19 and flu.”
This is consistent with the government’s messaging so far about protection against flu and Covid-19 this winter. In September the UKHSA urged everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster to take up the offer as soon as possible.
NHS director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said at the time: “This winter could be the first time we see the effects of the so called ‘twindemic’ with both Covid-19 and flu in full circulation, so it is vital that those most susceptible to serious illness from these viruses come forward for vaccines in order to protect themselves and those around them.”
Moderna announced at the start of 2022 that it hoped to produce a combination Covid-19/flu vaccine, but said it was aiming to roll the product out in time for winter 2023.
Image courtesy of Dean Calma / IAEA
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Since publishing this fact check, Nadhim Zahawi has corrected this claim on Twitter.
We also sent a correction request to the BBC.
The BBC has published a note on its corrections and clarifications page regarding Mr Zahawi's correction on Twitter.
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