CTN NEWS – COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses targeting the most common omicron strain today, were updated by the US on Wednesday. Shots could begin within days.
Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and Moderna, which have saved millions of lives already. Boosters modified for winter surge should blunt another winter surge and help mitigate the spread of BA.5 omicron.
“These updated boosters present us with an opportunity to get ahead” of the next COVID-19 wave, said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.
Booster vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain
COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain, even as wildly different mutants emerged. The new U.S. boosters are combination, or “bivalent,” shots. They contain half that original vaccine recipe and half protection against the newest omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5, which are considered the most contagious yet.
The combination aims to increase cross-protection against multiple variants.“It really provides the broadest opportunity for protection,” Pfizer vaccine chief Annaliesa Anderson told The Associated Press.
The updated boosters are only for people who have already had their primary vaccinations, using the original vaccines.
Boosters made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech
Doses made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are for anyone 12 and older while Moderna’s updated shots are for adults – if it has been at least two months since their last primary vaccination or their latest booster. They’re not to be used for initial vaccinations.
There’s one more step before a fall booster campaign begins: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend who should get the additional shot. An influential CDC advisory panel will debate the evidence Thursday – including whether people at high risk from COVID-19 should go first.
The U.S. has purchased more than 170 million dose
The U.S. has purchased more than 170 million doses from the two companies. Pfizer said it could ship up to 15 million of those doses by the end of next week. Moderna didn’t immediately say how many doses are ready to ship but that some will be available “in the coming days.”
“One needs to refresh the immune system with what is actually circulating,” Marks said. That’s why FDA also is no longer authorizing boosters made with the original recipe for those 12 and older.
It’s the first U.S. update to the COVID-19 vaccine recipe, an important but expected next step — like how flu vaccines get updated every year.
And the U.S. isn’t alone. Britain recently decided to offer adults over 50 a different booster option from Moderna, a combo shot targeting that initial BA.1 omicron strain. European regulators are considering whether to authorize one or both of the updated formulas.
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