The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to give the green light to updated versions of the COVID-19 vaccine booster starting Friday, according to four people familiar with the agency’s plans.
The latest doses are designed to target the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant, NBC News reports.
Although this particular strain is no longer dominant, the boosters should still provide protection against the currently circulating subvariants, which are closely related, drugmakers and experts say.
Friday’s deadline for authorization is not firm and could be delayed until early next week, two of the sources said.
That could draw further criticism from some doctors who say federal health agencies are moving too slowly in rolling out boosters as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising once again.
Two sources who spoke to NBC News indicated that the FDA is exploring the possibility of granting boosters a full approval license instead of an emergency use authorization, a departure from the approach used for previous authorizations of COVID-19 vaccines. .
However, it remains uncertain whether this is still the intended course of action.
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Following FDA approval, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its advisory committee will issue their own recommendations for who should receive the vaccines and how they should be used.
The agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to vote during a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen could approve the booster doses soon after the meeting, allowing vaccinations to begin.
About 97% of adults have some level of protective immunity, according to data shared by government officials.
However, as immunity from previous infections and vaccinations wanes over time, authorities intend to beef up protection as people spend more time indoors during the fall and winter months.
However, for the first time since COVID-19 vaccines have become available, the federal government will not cover the cost of the injections.