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New Merck pneumonia vaccine cures in US weeks at Pfizer


US regulators have approved a new pneumonia vaccine from Merck, more than a month after rival Pfizer OKed an improved version of the shot.

US regulators have approved a new pneumonia vaccine from Merck, more than a month after rival Pfizer OKed an improved version of the shot.

Both new shots offer better protection against bacteria that can cause pneumonia, meningitis and blood infections, as well as garden-variety ear and sinus infections.

Merck said Friday that the Food and Drug Administration has approved its shot, called VaxNuvance, for people age 18 and older. It protects against 15 of the approximately 100 pneumococcal strains, including those most responsible for severe disease.

Merck has not disclosed the price of its shot or when it will be launched.

Pfizer’s updated vaccine, Prevnar 20, was approved for adults on June 8. It has a list price of $232, but Pfizer said insured patients can be vaccinated for free or at low cost.

Pfizer’s new vaccine protects against seven more strains than the decade-old Prevnar 13, the world’s most lucrative vaccine with annual revenues of nearly $6 billion. In one large study, the new shot was 75% effective against the most severe disease.

Merck said the trial shows that its new vaccine works as well as Prevnar 13 against the strains that both vaccines fight, but it is more effective against one strain.

Merck and Pfizer are testing their shots in children and infants and plan to gain approval for those age groups.

Meanwhile, Merck will continue to sell its 38-year-old Pneumovax 23 vaccine, which protects against 23 strains and is approved for children. It uses an older technology that doesn’t cause as strong or long-lasting an immune response as the two newly approved shots.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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