new COVID boosters

COVID boosters that target the latest variants

Wednesday’s update to COVID-19 vaccinations was approved by the U.S., which includes booster doses of omicron-specific vaccines. The shots could be given within days.

Pfizer and Moderna, which already have saved millions of lives, made changes to the shot recipe. It is hoped that the modified boosters can stop another winter surge.

“You’ll find me at the forefront of the line,” Dr. Peter Marks, chief FDA vaccine officer, told The Associated Press shortly after his agency approved the new doses.

COVID-19 vaccines targeted the coronavirus original strain until now. However, there have been many new mutants. The combination shots, also known as “bivalent” shots, are the new U.S. boosters. They are half the original vaccine recipe and half the protection against the latest omicron versions (BA.4 and BA.5) that have been deemed the most contagious.

This combination is designed to increase cross-protection against multiple variants.

Annaliesa Anderson, chief vaccine officer at Pfizer, told the AP that it provides the greatest protection.

Only people who have had their original primary vaccinations using the updated boosters can use them. Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s boosters are available for people 12 years and older. Moderna’s updated shots for adults are only for those who have had their primary vaccinations or the most recent booster. These shots are not recommended for first vaccinations.

Before a fall booster campaign can begin, there is one more step: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to recommend who should receive the extra shot. A CDC advisory panel of experts will discuss the evidence Thursday, including whether high-risk COVID-19 patients should be first.

“As we enter fall, and start to spend more time indoors,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf stated in a statement.

The two companies have sold more than 170,000,000 doses to the U.S. Pfizer stated that it could ship as many as 15 million doses of these drugs by the end of next week.

It is not clear whether those who are tired of getting vaccinated will get up and go again. Only half of Americans were vaccinated and only one-third of Americans aged 50 or older received the recommended booster dose.

E. John Wherry, a University of Pennsylvania immunologist, stated that it is time for the U.S. to explain that people should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine every now and again.

Wherry stated that “we need to rebrand the company in a societally-normal-looking manner” rather than panicking to deal with new mutants. Give a clear and forward-looking list of expectations.”

Here’s the problem: Most people are generally well and offer protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19. This is especially true if they have received their first booster dose. It is not known how much additional benefit an updated booster will provide beyond the temporary increase in antibodies that can fight off an omicron infection.

One reason is that the FDA approved the modifications before studies in humans. This was a step towards eventually handling COVID-19 updates more like annual flu shots.

First, FDA reviewed human studies of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s earlier attempts to update their vaccines. These shots were identical to the last winter’s omicron strain. This recipe change was safe and significantly boosted antibodies against the older variant — better than any other dose of the original vaccine — while also providing some protection against the genetically different BA.4 or BA.5 omicron varieties.

FDA directed the companies to brew more current doses to target these newest omicron mutations, sparking a race for shots to be released in three months. Marks stated that animal testing showed that the new recipe triggers a “very good immune response.” He suggested that humans should not wait for more human studies.

He said that the hope is that a vaccine that matches current spreading variants will do a better job of fighting infection, and not just serious illness, at minimum for a while.

What’s next? Moderna and Pfizer continue to conduct human studies in order to assess the value of modified shots, as well as how they would hold up against a new mutant.

Pfizer will ask FDA in October to approve boosters for children aged 5-11 years old.

This is the first U.S. update of the COVID-19 vaccine formula, an important step but not the last. It’s similar to how flu vaccines are updated each year.

The U.S. is not the only one. Britain has recently offered adults over 50 an alternative booster option to Moderna. This combo shot is aimed at the initial BA.1 micron strain. European regulators are weighing whether to approve one or both of these updated formulas.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top