Revamped COVID-19 vaccines are poised to do battle with the super-contagious omicron variant.
On September 1, U.S. health officials greenlit the first major update of the mRNA-based shots, reformulated to recognize both the original version of SARS-CoV-2 and the recently circulating versions of omicron. Those mRNA vaccine boosters could start going into arms within days.
“They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement after endorsing a vaccine advisory committee’s approval of the shots.
Both Moderna and Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech created boosters that contain instructions for making the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants’ spike protein as well as the original virus’ spike protein. Those two variants now account for nearly all the new cases in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the shots August 31. The CDC action means the Pfizer booster is now OK’d for those 12 and older; Moderna’s shot is for those 18 and older.
The European Medicines Agency and Health Canada also authorized use of an updated booster vaccine on September 1. That one, made by Moderna, contains mRNA instructions for building the original coronavirus spike protein and the spike protein from the omicron BA.1 subvariant. The United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia have already given the nod for use of that dual, or bivalent, booster.
Here’s what to know about the new shots: [Continue reading…]