The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now pushing for annual COVID-19 shots for Americans.
On Monday, the FDA proposed “simplification of immunization schedule” where most adults and children need to be vaccinated once per year to stay ‘protected’ against the ‘mutating’ Covid-19.
“FDA expects that simplification of COVID-19 vaccine composition and annual immunization schedules may contribute to more facile vaccine deployment, fewer vaccine administration errors, and less complex communication, all potentially leading to improved vaccine coverage rates and, ultimately, to enhanced public health,” according to documents posted online on Monday.
The agency added people may only require a single dosage of the latest Covid-19 shot in the future, regardless of how many times someone had been vaccinated in the past, to restore immunity.
On Thursday, the FDA will convene a meeting with its panel of outside vaccination experts to discuss the proposal.
Vaccine experts had mixed responses.
Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic, a former member of the FDA’s expert advisory panel, says the first thing it should do is outline what it expects annual vaccination to achieve.
“They’re going to have to decide what the goal of the use of current vaccines is,” said Poland, who studies how the body responds to vaccines. “If it’s to prevent severe disease and death, we’re already there.”
Before considering the move to annual boosters, he would want to see data on how effective the current updated boosters are against the latest Omicron subvariants.
“The data that keeps getting trotted out in regards to efficacy is prior to BQ and XBB subvariants,” Poland said.
The committee also needs to demand complete transparency from the FDA and drug manufacturers when weighing its decisions, he said. He was very concerned that the agency had not shared all the data it had on bivalent boosters with the advisory committee in June.