HealthDay News — The Biden administration plans to roll out updated booster shots that target omicron variants shortly after Labor Day, in an effort to protect Americans against a possible winter surge in COVID-19 cases.
Peter Marks, M.D., the top vaccine regulator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told The New York Times on Tuesday that his team was close to approving the updated doses for emergency use. Although these newest boosters have only been tested in mice so far, Marks said the agency has “extremely good” data showing that the shots are safe and will be effective.
Both Moderna and Pfizer filed their applications for emergency use of their updated boosters this week. Moderna has begun human trials of its new vaccine, while Pfizer plans to do the same later this month. The main target of the new shots is the BA.5 variant, which now accounts for nearly 90 percent of all new U.S. cases.
In a signal that the FDA may soon act, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has scheduled a two-day meeting of its vaccine advisory panel of experts for Sept. 1 and 2, a step that typically follows FDA authorization of vaccines. Following the meeting, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky will make a final ruling on rolling out the new doses.
The government plans to offer the new Pfizer booster to everyone 12 years and older while limiting the new Moderna shot to adults, The Times reported. People who have already received the initial two-shot series of either vaccine and those who have also received one or two booster shots would be eligible.
As of mid-August, the federal government had bought more than 170 million doses of the updated version of the vaccines, The Times reported. This month, the CDC laid out detailed plans to offer the shots, warning that the supply would be “sufficient, but finite.”