US experts favor seasonal Covid boosters


A committee of medical experts in the United States is in favor of the Omicron-specific boosters this fall, as research-based evidence suggests like with influenza, Covid vaccines would also need seasonal boosters, in Washington, Tuesday, June 28.

At a meeting of a committee, convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 19 members voted in favor of administering booster doses on the basis of seasons, while two were against, as the panel reviewed the available data including projections about future caves and earl results from vaccine manufacturers.

Senior FDA scientist Peter Marks, remarked ahead of the meeting, to predict the course of a virus that has throughout defied all predictions and mutates faster that the flu was complex.

“What we are doing today is working in a very challenging area, because none of us has a crystal ball,” he said.

A panelist from the medicine department at University of Virginia, Prof Michael Nelson said, he voted in favor of the seasonal boosters, because he apprehended if the vaccine efficacy was impacted it would translate to severe outcomes for high-risk patients.

“We need to make a move sooner rather than later,” Nelson said.

 Vaccine-makers Pfizer and Moderna have previously announced positive data on antibodies evoked by their Omicron-specific vaccines. In separate presentations made by the two companies along with Novavax, Tuesday, about their mRNA candidate vaccines, a protein subunit vaccine.

The scientists were not instructed to vote on which form of Omicron they would like to see targeted in updated vaccines: BA.1, the original Omicron, or BA.4 and BA.5, which are rising fast across the globe.

Most of the experts, appeared to favor new shots that are “bivalent” and target both the original strain from end-2019, suspected to have spread from Wuhan, China, to generate a wider breadth of immune response, as well as against BA.4 and BA.5, the latest Omicron subvariants.

Neither of the vaccine-makers have yet produced such vaccines a large scale, but company representatives said they could start production within three months. In its presentation, Pfizer said a prototype booster it had developed against both the latest subvariants of Omicron had worked well against mice in trial runs.

While previous “variants of concern” like Alpha and Delta eventually petered out, Omicron and its sub-lineages have dominated throughout 2022, to the point it comprises the vast majority of all Covid patients in the world, FDA official Jerry Weir told the panel.