The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday published a proposed new COVID vaccine strategy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve beyond the crisis of an emerging virus to a more seasonal wave of manageable infections with the help of effective vaccines.
In a briefing document published on Monday, the U.S. health regulator said that the COVID vaccine may need to be updated annually to keep up with the evolving virus. Under the proposed strategy, the FDA would choose the dominant COVID strain in the spring to be the target for the updated shot ahead of a later vaccination campaign in the fall.
This type of vaccine strategy is similar to how the FDA selects the targeting virus for flu shots every year. This plan would allow for the health regulator to update and rollout new COVID vaccines without clinical trials, also similar to how annual flu shots are updated, so that the new vaccine is ready in-time before the colder winter months when respiratory illnesses tend to spike.
The FDA released the new vaccine strategy ahead of a meeting of the health regulator's independent vaccine advisory panel on Thursday. The expert group is expected to vote on whether to make all COVID vaccines moving forward bivalent shots, or vaccines that protect against both the original SARS-CoV-2 strain that first emerged in late 2019 and the current dominant global strain.
While there are multiple effective COVID vaccines, only Moderna
The FDA noted in the briefing document that most people will need to receive one shot every year to maintain maximum protection against the virus. Individuals that fall into this category are those who have been exposed to COVID's infecting spike protein at least twice--being through infection or vaccination.
Older adults and those with compromised immune systems may need two doses annually, according to the FDA's outline. The health agency also proposed for young children who have only received one shot to qualify for two doses yearly.