In a unanimous decision on Thursday, a panel of vaccine experts assembled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that COVID-19 vaccines should be modified to target the XBB omicron subvariants that are currently prevalent in the United States, Your Content has learned.
This update would mark the second adjustment to the vaccines, as they were previously altered to address the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, which are no longer in circulation within the country.
The XBB subvariants have become the dominant strains circulating in the U.S., with XBB.1.5 being the most prevalent.
The arcturus variant is responsible for the second-highest number of infections. Anticipating a booster campaign for the majority of Americans in the fall, federal regulators are aiming to enhance the COVID-19 shots to better align with the strains that will likely be circulating during that time.
This recommendation aligns with the conclusion reached by an advisory board for the World Health Organization (WHO) last month, emphasizing the necessity of updating the vaccines to enhance protection against symptomatic disease.
Leading vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are already in the process of developing shots that target the XBB subvariants.
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that individuals who have not received an updated COVID-19 booster shot may have limited protection against hospitalization compared to the unvaccinated population. Despite this, a significant portion of the American population has yet to receive the updated shot.
Health experts are hopeful that more people will opt for vaccination in the fall, in anticipation of a potential surge in coronavirus cases during the winter months.
Although the FDA is not obligated to accept the recommendations put forth by the vaccine committee, it typically does so.
Scientists within the agency have expressed in a document released earlier this week that the available data indicate the need for an updated strain composition of COVID-19 vaccines to closely match the currently circulating omicron sublineages, especially for the upcoming 2023–2024 vaccination campaign, according U.S. News.