Coronavirus: FDA recommends updating COVID-19 booster shots for fall

The Food and Drug Administration recommends updating the COVID-19 booster shots for the fall.

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According to the Associated Press, FDA advisers voted Tuesday that it’s time to get the COVID-19 booster shots “tweaked” to protect against the most recent variants of the virus so that adults in the United States can get an updated one in the fall. The FDA is working on a combination shot that would add protections against the omicron variant.

Some of the FDA panelists believe that the “tweaked” booster shot doesn’t mean everyone would get one but encourage older adults or those who are at high risk, according to the AP.

According to the AP, both Pfizer and Moderna tested updated shots to match omicron when it surged over the winter. That variant has since disappeared but has mutated into two “omicron cousins” known as BA.4 and BA.5, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said per the AP, make up about half of the cases in the U.S. currently.

Both Moderna and Pfizer both found that “tweaked” shots can boost antibodies against the “omicron cousins” but not as many, according to the AP. Pfizer is working with BioNTech to provide an omicron-only version of the shot. A third company, Novavax, is working to get an FDA authorization of their protein-based shots. However, advisers with the World Health Organization said per the AP, that shots that are tweaked to fight omicron may be better as a booster, not a replacement for the first vaccinations as they are expected to “increase the breadth of people’s protection against multiple variants.”