The Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory committee recommended replacing the original Covid vaccine used in the United States for everyone’s first two immunizations with the new bivalent omicron shots on Thursday.
If the FDA accepts the advisors’ recommendation, the companies’ vaccines developed in 2020 against the original Covid-19 strain that emerged in Wuhan, China, will most likely be phased out in the United States.
Instead, the drugmakers’ bivalent omicron shots would be used for the entire vaccination series, targeting both the omicron BA.5 subvariant and the original strain.
Pfizer and Moderna’s omicron shots are currently only approved as a booster, with the first two doses remaining their old shots based on the original Covid strain.
The proposal was unanimously supported by the committee’s 21 members, who agreed that it would simplify the Covid vaccination program in the United States.
“This is completely appropriate for the program. “It will make things easier,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The FDA has proposed a system similar to how the agency updates and distributes flu shots each year. In June, the agency would choose a Covid vaccine formulation to target the variant that is expected to be dominant in the fall and winter. All manufacturers would use that formulation for all doses.