COVID-19 Booster Shot for Omicron Variant Receives FDA Approval
The Pfizer/BioNTech booster is for people 12 and older, and Moderna’s vaccine will be for 18 and older. It’s important to note that they’re only booster shots, which means they can’t be used by someone who hasn’t had their first shot.
The new booster targets the original strain of the coronavirus and the BA.4 and BA.5 lines of the Omicron variant, which are the predominant versions of the virus currently circulating.
The original vaccine still protects people from being severely affected or killed by the COVID-19 virus, but with the advent of BA.4 and BA.5, these vaccines are less protective against being infected or getting sick. Research has shown that a vaccine against Omicron boosts the immune response to this version of the virus, so experts think it may better protect people from infection.
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are already clinically testing this version of the booster in people against the BA.1 line, an earlier variant of Omicron. They also tested BA.4 and BA.5 specific injections in animals. The FDA said in June that it wanted to see BA.4 and BA.5 specific shots and would review them based on data from BA.1, and the companies are still working on their new booster shots. Clinical Trials.
Both vaccines are also built using mRNA — tiny fragments of the virus’ genetic material that are introduced into the body so that the body can produce antibodies. One of the benefits of this type of vaccine is that it is relatively easy to adjust the genetic sequence, so it is not difficult to update the vaccine as the virus changes. It will still take a long time for the regulatory process to kick in so that newer vaccines can actually hit the market. But this update brings the COVID-19 vaccine closer to the status quo of the flu vaccine, which changes each year based on the circulating strain of the flu virus.
Moderna announced last week that it was suing Pfizer and BioNTech for allegedly infringing its vaccine patents.