Administration To Push COVID-19 Boosters After Labor Day

Look for a major push from the Biden administration after Labor Day to get Americans to roll their sleeves up once again and get a new generation of COVID-19 boosters. The new shots will target those 12 and up.

The Food and Drug Administration plans to approve newer versions of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 boosters around the Labor Day holiday.

These “bivalent” vaccines target the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron coronavirus subvariants along with the original strain in one shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that BA.5 is now responsible for 90% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases.

The FDA reports it is very close to the authorization, and its head vaccine regulator, Dr. Peter Marks, said that he is “extremely confident” that the shots are safe. He said the agency has very good data, though these versions of the vaccines have not been tested on humans.

The retiring Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Tuesday that the country needs to “do better to protect the American public.” He acknowledged the nation is in the middle of a BA.5 outbreak and vaccinations against it are “nowhere near” where he’d like them to be.

The medical community is hardly unanimous in its support for these additional vaccine boosters. Weill Cornell Medicine’s John P. Moore noted that deaths are concentrated in the unvaccinated and those with serious existing health conditions.

He adds that the protection from the updated versions will be “weak to nonexistent.”

Jeremy Kamil, a virologist with Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, said he supports the new boosters but sees very little effect in their administration. He said that there are so many people who have immunity already that the newly approved vaccines will hardly make a dent.

As he asked, “how many people are left who haven’t gotten Omicron?”

Supporters back up their claims by saying that immunity wears off over time, and having the new boosters will be helpful heading into the winter months and holiday season. They also note that the virus may mutate more, and without the additional immunity, more lives may be lost.