When omicron vaccines will be available as boosters

Pfizer and Moderna’s Omicron vaccines could be available as early as September 2022, pending FDA approval.

The currently dominant BA.5 subvariant of omicron in the US is more resistant to antibody protection from vaccines and previous infections than previous omicron strains.

As a result, some people are wondering when they might be able to get another COVID-19 vaccine targeting Omicron and its subvariants, data from Google Trends shows.

A VERIFY reader also asked the team when vaccines for the new COVID-19 variants will be available.

THE QUESTION

Will omicron COVID-19 vaccine boosters be available to the public in 2022?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Omicron COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be available to the public in 2022. The FDA says Moderna and Pfizer’s Omicron vaccines could be available as early as September.

WHAT WE FOUND

Omicron vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer could be available as early as September 2022, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesman told VERIFY. Currently, the FDA is not considering allowing a second booster dose for otherwise healthy adults under the age of 50 to await the updated booster shots before that date.

In late June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had advised vaccine manufacturers to develop modified injections containing an omicron BA.4/BA.5 spike protein component to create two-component, or bivalent, boosters.

The FDA has not advised manufacturers to change the primary series vaccine because the approved and licensed COVID-19 vaccines provide a “baseline of protection against serious consequences of COVID-19” caused by circulating variants.

Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax have announced that they are developing booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines specifically targeting Omicron and its subvariants.

Moderna announced on July 29 that the US government has purchased 66 million doses of its updated COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate, which contains the original Spikevax vaccine and mRNA from the omicron BA.4/BA.5 strain.

The company is also launching another booster shot option that features the Omicron strain BA.1. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), several sublineages of Omicron, including BA.1, BA.4, and BA.5 share some of the same mutations.

The U.S. government has also purchased 105 million COVID-19 vaccine boosters from Pfizer, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This may include vaccines customized for Omicron that require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, Pfizer said June 29.

Pfizer’s Omicron-adapted vaccine is a combination of its original injection and a vaccine that targets the BA.1 subvariant spike protein. During clinical trials, a booster dose induced a “substantially higher immune response” against the BA.1 subvariant compared to the company’s current COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer said.

The Omicron vaccine boosters purchased by the U.S. government could be used in the fall or winter of 2022, pending FDA approval, HHS said.

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine isn’t yet FDA-approved as a booster shot, but the company has an Omicron vaccine in the works.

In late May, Novavax announced that it would begin phase 3 of an additional study to determine the efficacy of its Omicron parent vaccine as a booster dose in eliciting superior immune responses to the Omicron variant compared to its newly approved no-booster vaccine. Study participants include people who have received either a two-dose primary series or a three-dose booster series of an mRNA vaccine.

RELATED: No, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved as a booster dose

Adults who have not yet received their first booster dose, especially those who are at high risk of serious illness, should get one soon as COVID-19 cases are rising, and not wait for an updated booster dose, the FDA said . Once boosters with an Omicron component become available, people should consider getting one at a convenient time after their previous booster shot.

Those age 50 or older who have not yet received a second booster shot can still do so and receive an updated booster shot in the fall, the FDA said.

“Receipt of a booster shot now does not prevent individuals from receiving an updated booster shot at an appropriate interval between doses once the FDA has reviewed the variant-specific vaccines and approved them for use,” the spokesman said.

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Alley Einstein

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