Dec 8, 2021 - Health

Ex-FDA chief: COVID jabs could become as common as flu shots

Stephen Hahn testifying in front of Congress.

Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images

Former FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn tells Axios that Americans may eventually require annual COVID vaccination boosters, although acknowledges that right now it's just his "best guess."

Why it matters: COVID jabs could become as routine as flu shots.

  • He says a key factor will be the virus' level of virulence as it mutates.
  • "What I find interesting with Omicron is that there are some early and encouraging results of people not getting particularly sick from this variant," Hahn explains. "Viruses often mutate to survive, but become less virulent during that mutation, so that might be what we're seeing ... Instead of getting a booster every six months, it could maybe be once a year."

Post-FDA: Hahn, an oncologist by training, this week was named CEO of Harbinger Health, which is seeking to develop simple blood tests for very early cancer detection.

  • Harbinger is a portfolio company of venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering, which is best known for creating and funding Moderna. Hahn joined Flagship over the summer as head of its preemptive medicine and health security initiative.
  • He says that his patients would always want to know about the origins of their cancers, and that Harbinger seeks to reverse engineer that question.
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