Covid pictures ought to goal Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 this fall
XBB.1.5 strain of Covid
CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended that Covid vaccine makers conduct fall single-strain vaccinations targeting the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, the nation’s dominant strain of the virus.
“Based on the body of evidence, the FDA has advised manufacturers who will be updating their COVID-19 vaccines to develop vaccines with a monovalent XBB 1.5 composition,” the agency said in a press release, citing pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Modern And Novavax.
Monovalent means that a vaccination is intended to protect against one variant of Covid.
XBB.1.5 is a descendant of the Omicron variant that caused a record spike in cases in the US early last year. It is also one of the most elusive strains of the immune system to date.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, XBB.1.5 accounted for almost 40% of all Covid cases in the US in early June. This proportion is slowly decreasing while the cases of the related variants XBB.1.16 and XBB.2.3 are increasing.
The FDA’s decision is consistent with recommendations by an agency advisory panel Thursday.
This panel voted unanimously that new vaccines should be monovalent and target a member of the XBB family. The consultants also generally agreed that targeting XBB.1.5 would be the most ideal option.
The FDA’s decision is also good news for Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax.
The three companies have already developed updated versions of their recordings targeting XBB.1.5. Preliminary data provided by each company on Thursday suggests these vaccines elicit strong immune responses against all XBB variants.
“Novavax is encouraged by today’s FDA announcement and the company’s XBB 1.5-COVID vaccine candidate is being manufactured at commercial scale with intent to launch for the fall immunization campaign,” a Novavax spokesperson said in an Statement to CNBC.
Pfizer said it will be able to fire a monovalent shot against XBB.1.5 by July. Moderna and Novavax have not provided specific timelines for delivery.
dr Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccine division, suggested Thursday that the updated vaccines could be available to the public around September.