New Covid-19 booster shots received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration today (Aug. 31). Shots could be administered as early as next week.
The new booster shots have been updated to target two different Covid strains in one shot—the current omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and the original strain of Covid-19. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants currently make up at least 90 percent of all new Covid cases in the U.S. This is the first time current Covid vaccines have had a major change to them since their rollout in December 2020. The new boosters are made by Moderna and by Pfizer with its German partner, BioNTech.
“It is matched to what is currently circulating. And the hope here is that by increasing the amount of antibodies we have to that particular variant, we will restore the kind of protection that we had when we first saw these vaccines launched in the late part of 2020, early part of 2021 where we had very good protection against symptomatic disease,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, at a press conference.
Marks also said his hope is that the updated boosters will restore the high level of protection against the disease that the vaccines demonstrated when they were first authorized.
The Biden Administration has been moving as fast as possible to prep vaccines for the fall and winter, with public health officials concerned about another wave of infection.
An independent panel of experts at the CDC will meet Sept. 1 to review the data on the boosters. If it votes in favor of the shots, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, could give a final sign off in a few days, and shots can be given to adults 18 and up after Labor Day weekend.
Experts expect that vaccines would be updated periodically to match current strains, not unlike the difference in flu shots per year.