On Monday, amid increasing coronavirus cases in this country, the US approved modified vaccines.
These vaccines for Covid-19 better target the variants of the virus currently found in the US.
The updated and adapted vaccines are produced by Moderna and Pfizer and specifically target the Covid-19 subvariant, known as XBB.1.5, which emerged last year but is no longer seen frequently in the US.
However, it also offers protection against the latest variants such as EG.5 and BA.2.86.
“Vaccination remains crucial for public health and continued protection against serious consequences of Covid-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Peter Marks, a senior official of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Moderna and Pfizer say the modified vaccines will be available in US pharmacies and clinics in the coming days.
Meanwhile, a panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet today (Tuesday) to make clinical recommendations about who should receive the modified vaccines.
Pres. Joe Biden’s administration believes that most Americans should receive annual booster doses. It is expected that the FDA will take a similar position.
Such a policy would be at odds with European countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany where booster doses are generally only recommended for the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.
Experts also differ on how widely the updated vaccines should be administered.
“I believe that every American is better off getting a booster dose against Covid-19 this fall,” Ashish Jha, who served as the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, told AFP.
“People with the highest risk will benefit the most, but even lower-risk individuals do better if they are vaccinated.”
However, Monica Gandhi of the University of California at San Francisco believes booster doses should only be given to specific risk groups.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both based on mRNA technology, carry rare risks of heart inflammation, especially in younger men.