President Biden has said his Administration will ‘likely’ recommend that all Americans roll up their sleeves for an updated Covid booster vaccine this fall.
Biden said today that he had signed off a proposal to present to Congress for extra funding for updated Covid vaccines that will be ‘likely recommended’ to everyone over the age of five – despite waning interest in booster shots.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that just 18 percent of eligible Americans have had a single booster.
The new vaccines, made by Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax, have been redesigned to target the dominant XBB variants and are expected to be rolled out in mid-September.
Officials say they will provide ‘robust’ protection against ‘Eris’, America’s currently most dominant strain. It is also hoped they will bolster immunity against BA.2.86 — which has sparked concerns over a future wave of infections.
The shots — which use mRNA or protein-based technology — are cleared for over-12s and have emergency use authorization for younger groups. But other countries, like the UK, plan to offer boosters to over-65s only.
Biden said today that he had signed off a proposal to present to Congress for extra funding for a new Covid vaccine, which will be ‘likely recommended’ to everyone
Covid boosters are set to be rolled out from mid-September, the CDC says (stock photo)
Most Americans will be able to get them for free on their health insurance, though there may be a fee for vaccine administration and potential physician visit fee.
Vaccine uptake continues to wane in America, amid anti-vaxx conspiracy theories and little sign that further shots will benefit healthy middle-aged adults.
When the vaccines were initially rolled out, tens of millions did not come forward to get the jab.
Uptake dipped further during the first wave of boosters in September 2021 — targeted at the Wuhan strain.
And the following winter — with jabs targeted against the then-dominant Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 plus the Wuhan virus — with only 18 percent of eligible Americans coming forward to get them.
Officials are expecting further poor uptake of these vaccines this year.
An official at the CDC said: ‘Our goal, our imperative, our task is to make sure we’re using those tools.
‘Vaccination is going to continue to be key this year because immunity wanes and because the Covid-19 virus continues to change.’
The CDC appears to have rolled forward the release of the shots to mid-September, after the new director Mandy Cohen previously said they would be available in early October.
The CDC has set a meeting for September 12 to discuss who will get the updated boosters.
The aim is to get as many Americans as possible boosted before the fall to bolster immunity against the virus.
Despite warnings over uptake, however, this week the Biden administration put another $1.4billion into developing new drugs and shots against Covid.
Officials said the funding would be used to develop ‘a new generation of tools and technologies to protect against Covid for years to come’.
The move marked yet another round of spending on the taxpayers’ dime.
There were concerns that the new shots would be less effective against fresh strains because these variants have slightly different sites where Covid-fighting antibodies bind to stop infections.
But many scientists have pointed out the shots will also prime other areas of the immune system, like T-cells, which can also help fight off infections.
Current immunity triggered from previous vaccinations and infections should also provide a level of protection against new variants, they add.
Speaking at a briefing yesterday, an FDA official said: ‘One of the manufacturers have already made it clear that when testing their vaccine against the EG.5 that it looks like the neutralization is robust.
‘[But] I think it’s too early to know for sure about BA.2.86 in terms of exact data.’
US hospitalizations are up by 21 percent in a week, with 12,600 recorded over the week ending August 12 — the latest available.
Deaths remain static, however, with 497 recorded in the week to July 29, the latest available, compared to 491 in the previous seven-day spell
Alarm bells have rung in America over recent weeks because of rising Covid cases and signs that more transmissible variants — EG.5 and BA.2.86 — are becoming established in the country.
Surveillance shows the test positivity rate — share of swabs detecting the virus — has doubled over the previous month.
US hospitalizations are also rising — up 21 percent in a week to 12,600 in the seven-day period to August 12 — although this is an uptick from historic lows. It is also still below the levels this time last year.
Deaths remain static, however, with 497 recorded in the week to July 29 — the latest available — barely a shift from 491 in the previous week.
Global and US health chiefs have urged calm over rising Covid cases and new variants, however, pointing out that virtually everyone now has immunity against the virus.
On Thursday, Dr Marion Koopmans — a virologist who advises the World Health Organization — said the world was now in a ‘different phase’ of the pandemic due to higher levels of immunity from vaccination and previous infection.
And in a press call yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that America was it is ‘strongest point yet’ against the virus because of this wall of immunity.
A CDC spokesman said yesterday: ‘We are in our strongest position yet to be able to fight Covid as well as the other viruses that are responsible for the majority of fall and winter hospitalizations.’
Read the full article here