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Biden Administration Plans to Offer Updated Booster Shots in September


WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is now expected to begin a campaign to boost Covid-19 with a retooled vaccine in September because Pfizer and Moderna have promised they can deliver doses by then, according to people familiar with the matter. familiar with the discussion.

With updated formulations seemingly imminent, federal officials have decided not to expand eligibility for a second booster of existing vaccines this summer. The new versions are expected to perform better than the BA.5 of the currently dominant Omicron sub-variant, although the data available so far is preliminary.

Until now, only Americans over the age of 50 and those over 12 with certain immune conditions have been eligible for the second booster dose. Although some federal officials have pushed for increased protections for younger Americans today, officials have agreed on a goal of boosting everyone’s immunity by the fall in the hope of a vaccine. enhanced effectiveness, before a possible winter surge of the virus.

In internal discussions, several senior health officials argued that eligibility should be extended for a second boost before the reformatted version is ready because coronavirus infections are on the rise again. . Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, and Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator, both support that stance.

Fauci said in an interview this month, “I think there needs to be some flexibility and permissiveness in allowing” the second push for younger Americans. An alternative discussed is to vaccinate only a small group of younger, at-risk people, such as pregnant women.

But officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argue that the government should instead focus on the fall campaign with updated dosages – if the campaign can. start early enough. After both Pfizer and Moderna recently assured the FDA that they could deliver millions of doses by mid-September, regulators decided it was better to wait for those shots.

All adults must be eligible to receive the up-to-date booster shots. Children may also be eligible, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The federal government also plans to continue to emphasize that anyone who is eligible for a booster shot should get the shot now, not wait until the fall. As of mid-week, health officials are still working to come up with their specific advice on the revised injections.

One concern is making sure people don’t get a booster now, followed by another potion with an updated formula too soon. Officials are concerned that, especially for younger men, two boosters close to each other could increase the risk of a rare heart-related side effect, myocarditis, which has been linked to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

For other reasons, immunologists warn against receive booster shots at short intervals.

“You can’t get another shot on August 1 and get another shot on September 15 and expect the shot,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at La Jolla Institute of Immunology. What will the second do? “You have a lot of antibodies around, if you inject another dose, it won’t do anything.”

“Antibodies prevent that next dose from working,” he added, if the next dose is given too soon – a pattern that applies to other vaccines, such as the tetanus or flu shot.

Federal officials are also concerned about the public’s patience with additional shots. The number of recipients has decreased with each new person provided. For example, while nearly half of all eligible people received their first booster shot, less than 30% of eligible Americans chose to receive a second booster — their fourth shot in total.

The Biden administration has been busy contracting for newly designed doses of the drug. Recent Department of Health and Human Services pre-purchased 105 million doses Pfizer-BioNTech’s $3.2 billion vaccine is set to roll out in the fall. The administration is expected to finalize a similar deal with Moderna soon.

The government’s decision comes as cases of the highly contagious BA.5 variant remain high across the country. Death and hospitalization has increased in recent weeks. The number of new cases announced each day has fluctuating nearly 130,000 — possibly a significantly low number because of the unreported number of home tests — and President Biden just had his own test with the variant.

Deaths from Covid-19 still much focus among older age groups, while hospitalizations are still far below the peak of the Omicron wave last winter.

At a meeting in late June of the FDA advisory committee, independent vaccine experts unanimously agreed with the need for an updated coronavirus vaccine because the virus is currently evading their protection. more ingenious way. But both Pfizer and Moderna are reluctant to commit to providing dosages with the revised formula in early fall.

Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research, said at the meeting that her company was prepared to deliver doses in early October. Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said the company His company will be able to deliver the improved injections only in late October or early November.

But more recently, both companies assured federal officials that they could accelerate their timetables and be ready by early September, according to people familiar with the discussions.



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