FDA asks COVID-19 vaccine makers to update boosters to target new Omicron variants

The Food and Drug Administration has asked COVID-19 vaccine makers to update booster shots to combat newer Omicron variants that are on the rise. It states that manufacturers should add a spike protein component to the shots to target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants in addition to the original strain.

An “overwhelming majority” of the FDA’s advisory committee this week voted to update shots with an Omicron component in hopes of deploying those modified boosters in the fall. The recommendation only applies to booster vaccinations and not to primary vaccinations.

Vaccine manufacturers are essentially playing slap on the mole with the different strains of COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna have developed versions of their vaccines that target BA.1, the Omicron variant that caused a significant spike in COVID-19 cases over the winter.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this strain is no longer circulating in the United States. Earlier this week, the CDC said BA.4 and BA.5 now account for over 52 percent of COVID-19 infections in the United States. That number is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

As CNBC Notes that Pfizer and Moderna this week released clinical trial data showing that the current Omicron vaccines against BA.1 outperformed the original versions of their vaccines in terms of a stronger immune response. While the immune response against BA.4 and BA.5 was still reported to be robust, the Omicron inoculations were less effective against these strains. It’s unclear how long it will take vaccine makers to develop shots that target BA.4 and BA.5.

“Vaccine manufacturers have previously reported clinical trial data of modified vaccines containing an Omicron BA.1 component and we have advised them to submit this data to the FDA for evaluation before approving a modified vaccine containing Omicron BA.4/5 component,” the FDA said. “Manufacturers are also encouraged to begin clinical trials of modified vaccines containing a BA.4/5 component from Omicron, as this data will be useful in further evolving the pandemic. “

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https://www.engadget.com/fda-covid-19-booster-omicron-variants-171615063.html?src=rss FDA asks COVID-19 vaccine makers to update boosters to target new Omicron variants

Russell Falcon

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