Each week, OMRF Vice President of Research Dr. Rod McEver opens “Adam’s Journal” to answer a medical question from Adam Cohen, OMRF’s senior vice president & general counsel.
With highly contagious strains of the coronavirus having caused yet another surge, what is the outlook for second boosters for the general population? People over 50 (like us) and those who are immunocompromised have been okayed for the shots, but what about everyone else?
Dr. McEver Prescribes
Covid-19 second boosters for healthy people under 50 are currently on hold, and they could remain so until the fall.
Although high-ranking officials in the Biden Administration like Dr. Anthony Fauci favored making second boosters more widely available, the Food and Drug Administration had concerns. In particular, it seemed that the FDA wanted the focus on the development of new boosters specific to the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, which are currently circulating and responsible for the lion’s share of infections.
The FDA worried that efforts to get younger adults to receive a second booster might compromise a subsequent campaign to receive the newer, more targeted booster later this year. There are also questions about how closely in time the two shots could be administered and still be effective.
In late June, the FDA directed Moderna and Pfizer to work on retooled boosters that included an omicron component. The companies are working on those shots, and they’ve indicated they’d likely deliver them by sometime in October. But with government officials continuing to apply pressure, we may see them sooner.
With the new shots in the works, it seems unlikely we’ll see new authorizations for the current vaccines in the coming months. However, that could change if it appears that the new formulations won’t become available by early fall or if the supply of newly formulated boosters is not adequate to provide for widespread vaccination of all groups.
Either way, I’d expect to see a second booster, whether a new formulation or the current one, authorized for those under 50 by this fall. Until then, we all know the best ways to protect ourselves: avoid crowds, socially distance when possible, or wear a mask.
Do you have a health query for Dr. McEver? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered in a future column!