Jun 27, 2022 - Health

FDA to examine variant changes for COVID shots

An FDA sign outside one of the agency's buildings.
Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

A key FDA advisory committee will meet Tuesday to examine how COVID-19 vaccines should be modified as the virus evolves and vaccine protection wanes.

Why it matters: It could help spell out the longer-term plan for protecting Americans against the virus at a time when existing vaccines can't seem to keep up with emerging strains.

Driving the news: On Saturday, Pfizer-BioNTech said a trial of its two Omicron-modified COVID-19 vaccine candidates elicited a "substantially higher immune response" against the Omicron BA.1 variant compared to the companies' current COVID-19 vaccine.

What we're watching: Whether retooled vaccines could become outdated by the time they become available.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech acknowledged preliminary studies demonstrate both Omicron-adapted candidates neutralize the subvariants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 to a lesser extent than they do for BA.1.
  • "We will therefore remain vigilant and are prepared to rapidly adapt our Omicron-adapted vaccine candidates to emerging sublineages if epidemiological and laboratory data suggest," Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech said in a statement.
Go deeper