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FDA advisors recommend updating COVID booster shots for the fall

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At least some US adults voted for a COVID-19 shot updated this fall, as government advisers voted on Tuesday to fine-tune booster doses to better match the latest viral variants. May get.

Food and Drug Administration advisors are now working on ways to change doses when there is no way to know how a rapidly changing virus will evolve by the fall. In particular, those who get the boosters recommended today are strongly protected from the worst consequences of COVID-19.

Finally, the FDA panel voted 19-2 and the COVID-19 booster should include a version of the super-contagious Omicron variant to prepare for the expected fall booster campaign.

Dr. Mark Sawyer of the University of California, San Diego said:

The FDA needs to determine the exact recipe, but expects a combination shot that adds protection to either Omicron or its new relatives to the original vaccine.

“No one has a crystal ball,” said Dr. Peter Markes, FDA’s head of vaccines, to find out about the next threatening mutant. Virus strain.

It’s not clear to whom the fine-tuned boosters will be offered — they can only be encouraged by the elderly or those at high risk of the virus. However, the FDA is expected to decide on recipe changes within a few days, and Pfizer and Moderna will need to seek approval for appropriately updated doses. This is the time for health authorities to decide on an autumn strategy.

Today’s COVID-19 vaccine has saved millions of lives worldwide. Due to the booster effect, those used in the United States maintain strong protection against hospitalization and death, but their ability to stop infection when Omicron appears is significantly reduced. And the Omicron mutant that caused the winter surge was replaced by its genetically distinct relatives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two modern Omicron cousins, called BA.4 and BA.5, currently account for half of the cases in the United States.

Pfizer and Moderna have already brewed boosters to add protection to the first Omicron mutants. Their combination shot, which scientists call a “divalent” vaccine, has significantly increased the level of antibodies that can fight the mutant, not just an additional dose of today’s vaccine.

The two companies found that fine-tuned shots provided some cross-protection against those anxious BA.4 and BA.5 mutants, but not so many.

Many scientists favor a combined approach to retain the proven benefits of the original vaccine, including some cross-protection against other mutants that occurred during the pandemic.

The problem facing the FDA is changing the correct recipe. The two companies said there were a lot of combo shots targeting Omicron by October, but Modana said switching to the latest relatives targeting Omicron could delay the version by another month. rice field.

Further complicating the decision is that only half of the vaccinated Americans receive that very important first booster. According to the CDC, protection against hospitalization has fallen below some of the elderly, but a second booster recommended for people over the age of 50 seems to recover it. However, only a quarter of those eligible for additional boosters have won one.

By fine-tuning the shots, Marks said, “I hope we can convince people to get boosters that help boost the immune response and prevent the next wave.”

Logistics becomes difficult. Many Americans, including just-qualified infants, have not yet been vaccinated for the first time. And it is not clear whether regulated booster immunity will ultimately lead to a change in the primary vaccine. However, an FDA adviser said it was also important to study the latest vaccine recipes for children.

And another complexity: the third company, Novavax, is waiting for FDA approval for a protein-based shot, a more traditional type of COVID-19 vaccine. Novavax argued Tuesday that the usual vaccine booster promises an excellent immune response to the new Omicron variant without changing the recipe.

A World Health Organization adviser recently said that fine-tuned shots of Omicron should be of greatest benefit only as a booster, as they should broaden the range of mutual protection for people against multiple variants.

“We don’t want the world to lose confidence in the vaccines currently available,” said Dr. Cantasabvarao, a virologist who chairs the WHO Commission.

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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