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Moderna says it’s going to start growing a seasonal flu vaccine

Biotech company Moderna announced Thursday that it would begin developing a vaccine for the influenza season.

"We announce that we will increase our investment in vaccines and, given the unmet need for highly potent vaccines, we will develop a seasonal flu vaccine," said CEO Stephane Bancel in a press release.

Influenza has caused 9 to 45 million diseases annually since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderna found that vaccines generally lower the risk of influenza by 40% to 60% compared to people who are not vaccinated.

The vaccines "also face significant challenges due to strain mismatches," said Moderna. High-risk groups like the elderly would likely benefit from a highly potent vaccine that Moderna can deliver, according to its technology platform.

Moderna is also in late-stage testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine. The company's vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, that scientists hope will stimulate the immune system to fight the virus.

Bancel told CNBC that the company should have enough data from its late-stage study to know if its coronavirus vaccine is working in November.

The company may have enough data by October, but that's unlikely, Bancel said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "If the infection rate in the country slows in the next few weeks, it could possibly be displaced in the worst case in December."

As of Wednesday, the company enrolled 25,296 people in the study and expects up to 30,000 participants.

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