Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster may arrive in a few weeks

The Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster could be available in a few weeks, assuming federal authorities sign off on the new shot, a senior COVID-19 White House official said this week.

The booster has been widely anticipated for months, especially as the newest dominant Omicron subvariant, BA.5, “looks really different in a lot of ways than the original strain we developed the vaccines against,” Dr. Ashish Jha the White said in a forum with the US Chamber of Commerce this week.

“The good news is that our vaccines are still doing a remarkable job of keeping people out of the hospital, particularly the intensive care unit and worse,” Jha said. “But the effect of these vaccines on preventing infection has decreased over time because of this development” of the Omicron strain.

The new booster “should be arriving in the next few weeks,” Jha said. They “will be available in early to mid-September” if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the shots.

Jha said he expects the booster to be available to adults whether or not they’ve had previous boosters and whether they’ve recently been infected. But it will be the FDA and CDC that will ultimately set criteria for which age groups are eligible for the booster.

The new Omicron booster will be what is known as a bivalent shot, designed against both the original coronavirus strain and the Omicron subvariant BA.5.

“These are major improvements in our vaccines in terms of their ability to prevent infection, prevent transmission, and certainly prevent serious illness and death,” Jha said.

“So it’s going to be really important for people to get the new recording this fall and winter. It was designed for the virus that is out there. And again, based on everything we’ve seen so far, all the data suggests it should be highly effective against the new variants,” Jha said. Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster may arrive in a few weeks

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