(WXYZ) — The FDA’s Advisory Committee gathered today to discuss the future of COVID-19 boosters. The committee was asked to develop a long-term strategy that would outline who gets boosted and when.
There were quite a few topics that the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee discussed today. The goal of the meeting was to review the effectiveness of our vaccines, develop a general framework that would help Americans know when to get boosted, and layout parameters regarding the best time to update our vaccines to target specific variants.
Now, the FDA said that our current vaccines are not “well-matched”. While data shared at the meeting showed that our vaccines are, for the most part, still protecting people from hospitalization and death. It was noted that they are waning over time. And they’re less effective against infection when it comes to variants like omicron.
As for a second booster shot, real-world data from Israel found Pfizer’s second booster shot waned quickly. It only provided enhanced protection against infection for about 4 weeks. However, protection against severe illness lasted longer. And it did not appear to decrease by the sixth week. However, more follow-up is needed.
So there is confusion and debate concerning second boosters. Adults age 50 and up are eligible but many folks wonder if they get a second boost now, can they get boosted again in the fall? So the Advisory Committee will provide some direction on this. And not just for older folks but for the entire population.
It is a real possibility that many Americans will need annual booster shots similar to the flu shot. But there are some hurdles.
First of all, when it comes to the flu, we have a predictable flu season that peaks during winter. Also, the dominant strain is usually a descendant from the previous season.
Whereas with the Coronavirus, variants can be highly mutated and therefore look different from each other. Also, there is no predictable pattern. They can pop up anywhere, at any time. There’s also no guarantee that our current vaccines will work against new variants.
Our vaccines were created to fight the original virus. Since then, variants like alpha, delta, and omicron have emerged in different parts of the world. With each variant more infectious and transmissible than the previous one.
So the FDA’s advisory committee will also discuss and propose how to address future COVID-19 variants and outbreaks. And come up with a process so that the new vaccines can be approved quickly once proven they’re safe.
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View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
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