All Americans ages 6 months and older will be eligible to receive an updated COVID booster tailored to a newer Omicron strain, if a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee has its way.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 Tuesday to approve updated jabs from Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax for the vast majority of U.S. residents, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve Novavax’s updated formula. The agency authorized such boosters from Moderna and Pfizer on Monday.
The CDC anticipates having adequate supply and shouldn’t need to prioritize certain groups, like the elderly or immunocompromised, for first doses, officials said at a Tuesday committee meeting.
The CDC must now accept or reject the committee’s recommendations. It is expected to accept them, and boosters could be available to the general public by the end of the week.
“Everyone ages 6 months or older should receive the new, updated Moderna and Pfizer XBB-strain COVID vaccine,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Fortune on Tuesday.
“It is clear that the vaccine remains safe and effective at all ages. People at high risk will especially benefit from the vaccine. This is consistent with universal recommendation that the [committee made] today.
Updated vaccines tailored to old strain
New boosters are monovalent, meaning they’re tailored to just one strain of COVID. Last year’s updated Omicron boosters were tailored to both Omicron and the initial strain of COVID.
Updated jabs are tailored to the XBB.1.5 “Kraken” strain, which dominated in the U.S. and elsewhere late last year into early this year and is now nearly extinct. It was estimated to be responsible for just 3.1% of U.S. infections 10 days ago, according to the latest variant data the CDC has made available.
The good news: New boosters are expected to provide protection against currently circulating strains, including the highly mutated “Pirola” BA.2.86 variant, which didn’t evolve from the XBB family. The majority of circulating strains, however—including “Eris” EG.5, which currently leads U.S. cases—did evolve from XBB strains, meaning the updated jabs should prove to be a good match.
This is a developing story and will be updated.