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What Will the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines Look Like?

March 21, 2022

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today it will evaluate the need for variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines and the timing for additional booster doses next month.

On April 6, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet to discuss the process for selecting specific strains of the virus for COVID-19 vaccines to address current and emerging variants and considerations for future COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.

The meeting comes as U.S. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined sharply from the Omicron surge, but case counts are rising in other parts of the world due to the “Stealth” subvariant.

Here’s what you need to know:

State of the pandemic:  The meeting is another step in the nation’s future preparedness, FDA officials said, with a goal of moving “forward safely, with COVID-19 becoming a virus like others such as influenza that we prepare for, protect against, and treat”

Pfizer and Moderna:  Last week, officials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna submitted applications to amend their emergency use applications to allow for an additional (fourth) booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer’s application would be for people 65 and older, while Moderna’s would cover all adults who have received a booster of any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines

Key question:  The April 6 meeting will offer insight on how the nation’s vaccine advisors view the need for boosters for older Americans and the general population

Action items:  No vote is planned at this meeting and there will not be any discussion of any product-specific applications

Quotable:  “As we prepare for future needs to address COVID-19, prevention in the form of vaccines remains our best defense against the disease and any potentially severe consequences,” said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

HAP will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and provide updates to members and the general public.

Additionally, HAP urges everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Getting vaccinated ensures you have the full protection against the virus and helps limit the spread in your community. Learn more about vaccine appointments available in your community.

The FDA’s COVID-19 booster meeting will be broadcast online live next month.