The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is convening its advisory committee today to deliberate on the updates needed for the next round of COVID boosters to effectively target strains that may be prevalent during the upcoming fall season.
Scientists assess the strains of the virus in circulation and make educated predictions about which strains will be most prevalent, determining the composition of the vaccine accordingly.
This will be the second time COVID vaccines have undergone updates. Last year, the FDA authorized new shots targeting the original coronavirus strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. The initial vaccines, authorized in December 2020, only targeted the original coronavirus.
On Monday, the FDA released briefing documents stating that scientists suggest the redesigned boosters should aim to combat at least one of the dominant variants of the XBB strain. XBB emerged in October and is derived from two omicron subvariants. Since last fall, new XBB strains have continued to emerge.
The scientists conclude that updating the strain composition of COVID-19 vaccines to align more closely with the currently circulating omicron sublineages is warranted for the 2023–2024 vaccination campaign.
The extent to which the new booster will be recommended for the general population this fall remains uncertain. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet next week to discuss updated COVID boosters, among other vaccines.
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