An advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended that updated booster vaccines targeting Omicron be available in the fall, CNBC reports.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been developing bivalent vaccines that target not only the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 but also Omicron. Both companies have reported that their updated bivalent vaccines lead to an increased immune response, as compared to their originals, in face of Omicron.
CNBC notes that the committee did not recommend which Omicron subvariant the vaccines should target. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that BA.4 and BA.5 now account for more than half the COVID-19 cases in the US while BA.1 is not circulating there anymore. CNBC adds that FDA panel members appeared think it would be better to target BA.4 and BA.5 but note that that would create challenges for the vaccine developers, which have focused on the original Omicron lineage.
The Atlantic adds that while the US has focused on developing SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, there has been less of an emphasis on ensuring that people get vaccinated. That challenge, it adds, will only increase with each new recommended shot. "By year's end, America will likely set a vaccine precedent, either breaking its pattern of injection attrition or further solidifying it, and letting the virus once again lap us," the Atlantic writes.