August 4, 2022 – New COVID-19 vaccine The boosters, targeting new Omicron strains of the virus, are expected to roll out in the US in September, a month ahead of schedule, the Biden administration announced this week.
Moderna has signed a $1.74 billion federal contract to supply 66 million initial doses of the “bivalent” booster, which includes the original strain of the “ancestral” virus and elements of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. Pfizer also announced a US$3.2 billion deal for an additional 105 million injections. Both vaccine providers have signed options to provide millions more boosters in the coming months.
Some 83.5% of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, with 71.5% fully vaccinated with the initial series, 48% receiving a impulse shotand 31% two reinforcements, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With around 130,000 new COVID cases a day and around 440 deaths, officials say the updated enforcements can help bring those numbers under control by targeting widely circulating and highly transmissible Omicron strains.
Federal news block officials are still working out details of the guidelines and recommendations on who should get the boosters, which are expected to come from the CDC and the FDA. For now, officials have decided not to expand eligibility for second boosters of existing vaccines, which are now recommended only for adults over 50 and over 12 with immunodeficiencies. It is recommended that children ages 5 to 11 years receive a single booster 5 months after their initial series of vaccines.
To get a preview of what you can expect from the CDC and FDA, we spoke with Keri Althoff, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Below are excerpts from that interview.
Q: Based on what we know now, who should get one of these new bivalent boosters?
A: Of course, there is a process here regarding specific recommendations, but it seems like there will probably be a recommendation for all people to get this bivalent booster, similar to the first booster. And there will probably be a recommended time frame as to how long it’s been since the last boost.
At this time, we have a recommendation for adults age 50 and older or adults at higher risk for severe illness related to COVID [to get] a second booster. For them, there will probably be a timeline that says you should get the booster if it’s X number of months or more since your second booster; o X number of months or more since your first booster, if you have only had one.
Q: What about pregnant women or those being treated for chronic news block conditions?
A: I imagine that once this bivalent booster is available it will be recommended for all adults.
Q: And for children?
A: Good question. It’s something I’ve been looking into, [and] I think parents are really interested in this. Most children, ages 5 and older, are supposed to get a booster shot at this time, if they are X number of days from their primary immunization series. Of course, those 6 months to 4.99 years are still not eligible. [for boosters].
As a parent, I would love for my children to be eligible for the bivalent booster. It would be great if these boosters conveyed some extra protection that kids could access before we send them off to school this fall. But there are questions about whether or not that will happen.
Q: If you never received a booster, just the preliminary series of vaccines, do you need to get those earlier boosters before getting the new bivalent booster?
A: I don’t think they’re likely to make that a requirement: restrict the bivalent booster to only those who are already boosted or up to date on their vaccinations by the time the bivalent booster becomes available. But that will depend on the [CDC] vaccine recommendation committee to decide.
Q: Are there any new risks associated with these reinforcements, given that they were developed so quickly?
A: No. We continue to monitor this technology, and with all the mRNA vaccines that have been delivered, you’ve seen all that monitoring with detecting, for example, different forms of inflammation of heart tissue and who it might affect. So those monitoring systems work, and they work very, very well, so we can detect those things. And we know that these vaccines are definitely safe.
Q: Some news block experts are concerned that “vaccine fatigue” will impact the booster campaign. What is your opinion?
A: We have seen this fatigue in the proportion of people who receive a booster with a first booster and even a second booster. But having those old boosters along with this new bivalent booster is important, because essentially what we’re doing is really priming the immune system.
We are trying to speed up the process of getting people immune system a day so that when the virus comes to us, as we know it will, because [of] these Omicron strains that are highly infectious and really hitting our communities – we can get the highest level of population immunityyou don’t end up in the hospital.
Q: What other challenges do you see in persuading the Americans to get another round of reinforcements?
A: One of the things that I’ve been hearing a lot, that makes me really nervous, is people saying, “Oh, I’m fully vaccinated, I didn’t get my booster or I didn’t, and I had COVID anyway and it was really nothing, I didn’t think a lot, so they’re not going to boost me anymore. We are not yet at a place where those guidelines are reversed in any way, shape or form. We still have people highly vulnerable to serious illness and death in our communities, and we’re seeing hundreds of deaths every day.
There are consequences, even if it is not in the severity of the disease, that is, hospitalization and death. And let’s not let the actual quality of the vaccine be so successful that it can keep you out of the hospital. Don’t confuse it with “I don’t need another one”.
Q: Unlike the flu vaccine, which is reformulated each year to accommodate circulating strains, the new COVID boosters offer protection against both older and newer strains. Why?
A: It’s about creating a broader immune response in people so that as more strains emerge, which they probably will, we can create a broader immune response in the population. [to all strains]. Our individual bodies are seeing differences in these strains through vaccination that helps everyone stay healthy.
Q: There have been no clinical trials of these new mRNA boosters. How strong is the evidence that they will be effective against emerging Omicron variants?
A: There have been some studies, some excellent studies, looking at things like neutralizing antibodies, which we use as proxies for clinical trials. But that is not the same as studying the outcome of interest, which would be hospitalizations. So part of the challenge is being able to say, “Okay, here’s what we know about the safety and efficacy of the previous vaccines…and how can we relate that to the results with these new boosters at an earlier stage?” [before] clinical data available?
Q: How long will the protections of the new reinforcements last? We already know?
A: That timing is still a question, but of course what plays a big role in that is what strains of COVID are circulating. If we prepare these reinforcements that are specific to Omicron, and then something totally new comes along… we have to be more agile because the variants are outpacing what we’re capable of.
This turns out to be a bit of a game of chance: the more infection we have, the more the virus replicates; the greater the replication, the greater the opportunity for mutations and later variants.
Q: What about a combined flu and COVID vaccine? Is that on the horizon?
A: My kids, who like most kids don’t like vaccines, always say to me, “Mom, why can’t they just put the flu shot and the COVID shot in the same shot?” And I say, “Oh, from your lips to the ears of a scientist.”
At a time like this, where mRNA technology has completely revolutionized what we can do with vaccines, in such a good way, I think we should push the boundaries, because that would be amazing.
Q: If you received a COVID vaccine without mRNA, such as those produced by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, should you also receive an mRNA boost?
A: Right now, the CDC guidelines state that if your primary vaccine series was not with an mRNA vaccine, then getting a booster with an mRNA is a good thing, and is actually recommended. So that’s not going to change with bivalent reinforcement.
Q: Is it okay to get a flu shot and a COVID booster at the same time, as the CDC has recommended with previous vaccines?
A: I don’t anticipate there being recommendations against that. But I would also say keep an eye out for recommendations coming out this fall on bivalent boosters.
I hope that in the recommendations that the CDC makes about COVID boosters, they say to also think about getting a flu shot. You could also get your COVID booster first and then in October get your flu shot.
Q: Once fully stimulated, is it safe to stop wearing a mask? social distancingavoiding crowded indoor spaces and taking other precautions to avoid COVID-19?
A: The virus is going to do what it does, which is infect whoever it can and make them sick. So if you see a lot of community transmission, you know who is sick with COVID at your children’s schools, you know at your workplace and when people go out, that still indicates there are some increases in the circulation of the virus. So look at that to understand what your risk is.
If you know someone or have a colleague who is currently pregnant or immunocompromised, think about how you can protect them by wearing masks, even if it’s just when you’re in one-on-one meetings behind closed doors with that person. .
So your question about wearing masks is an important one, and it’s important that people continue to wear those masks and wear them the week before they go to see grandma, for example, to further reduce the risk that she won’t bring nothing here. .
High-level community risk across the country is high at this time. COVID is here.