United States | Experts recommend a booster shot specifically for Omicron

(Washington) A committee of American experts on Tuesday voted in favor of a vaccine recall specifically targeting Omicron, predicting the need for annual injections against COVID-19 like the flu.

Posted at 6:53 p.m

The scientists, invited by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved the measure by a 19-2 vote after spending a day reviewing available data, including forecasts for future waves and preliminary results from vaccine manufacturers.

Summarizing the complexity of the situation, one FDA scientist anticipated the development of a virus that has often defied predictions and mutates even faster than the flu.

“We’re working in a very complicated area today because none of us have a crystal ball,” he said.

One member of the committee, University of Virginia medicine professor Michael Nelson, said he voted for the measure because he feared the waning effectiveness of vaccines could lead to severe cases for people at high risk. “We must act immediately. »

Pfizer and Moderna, which recently announced their vaccines specifically designed against the Omicron variant were showing promising results, addressed the panel of experts on Tuesday, as did Novavax.

Experts didn’t have to specify which sub-variant of Omicron they specifically want to see: BA.1, the first version, or BA.4 and BA.5, which are spreading rapidly around the world.

But during their discussions, most scientists seemed to prefer a vaccine that targets both the first strain of the virus, for broad protection, and the later BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Pfizer and Moderna said they could start producing such vaccines within three months.

Unlike the alpha and delta variants, which eventually declined, Omicron and its subvariants so dominated infections in 2022 that they now account for the vast majority of infections worldwide, the FDA’s Jerry Weir Committee said.

This trend makes it more likely that the COVID-19 virus will continue to evolve within the Omicron business in the future.

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