FDA advises updating COVID boosters to target latest omicron variants

Current booster effectiveness "wanes over time against certain variants," agency says.

Updated: June 30, 2022 - 3:46pm

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week advised that drug manufacturers tweak their COVID-19 booster shots in order to account for recently emerged variants of the omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2. 

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee earlier this week "voted in favor of including a SARS-CoV-2 omicron component in COVID-19 vaccines that would be used for boosters in the U.S. beginning in fall 2022," the FDA said in a press release.

The agency noted that it had "not advised manufacturers to change the vaccine for primary vaccination, since a primary series with the FDA-authorized and approved COVID-19 vaccines provides a base of protection against serious outcomes of COVID-19 caused by circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2."

Yet the agency said it would be asking vaccine manufacturers "to begin clinical trials with modified vaccines containing an omicron BA.4/5 component" in order to head off potential surges of those strains. 

Daily confirmed COVID cases have greatly increased throughout the United States since the late spring, though in recent weeks they have leveled off, while deaths have continued to decrease or remain low. Experts and advocates have pointed to the widespread use of COVID vaccines as one of the determining factors in keeping deaths low. 

"The COVID-19 vaccines that the FDA has approved and authorized for emergency use have made a tremendous difference to public health and have saved countless lives in the U.S. and globally," the FDA said in its release.

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