Friday, September 29, 2023
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FDA approves updated Covid-19 boosters

Aiming to provide additional protection for Americans against the coronavirus over the upcoming flu season, the FDA authorized new versions of Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Clearing the way for inoculations designed to combat newer omicron strains, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of spruced-up versions of Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines Monday.

“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” emphasized Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement alongside the announcement. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.”

Marks encouraged all Americans who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated, which include those 12 years and up and children aged 6 months through 11 years. The new shots have been updated to better protect against a more recent omicron variant called XBB.1.5, while the older bivalent shots and boosters protected against the original Covid-19 strain and an older version of omicron.

The new shots are also approved for those who did not receive the initial vaccination series and could be available as soon as next week, pending approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is set to review the matter Tuesday.

The FDA's authorization comes at a time when a new subvariant of Covid-19’s omicron, the EG.5 or “Eris strain," has been spreading rapidly throughout the country, causing a wave of infections and hospitalizations.

Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel lauded the FDA’s authorization of the company’s vaccine Monday in light of the upcoming flu season.

"Covid-19 remains a leading cause of death in the U.S. and poses a significant threat to vulnerable populations, particularly as we enter peak respiratory virus season,” said Bancel in a statement. “As the primary circulating strain continues to evolve, updated vaccines will be critical to protecting the population this season."

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla meanwhile emphasized the relative ease of getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

“People can ask their doctor about receiving their Covid-19 vaccine during the same appointment as their annual flu shot, saving time now and helping to prevent severe disease later when respiratory viruses are at their peak,” Bourala said in a statement.

According to the FDA, the shots will be free to most Americans through their private insurance or Medicare, and the CDC will work with health departments and health care providers to temporarily provide free shots for uninsured and underinsured Americans.

The Biden administration ended the Covid-19 health emergency in May.

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