On Tuesday, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration met to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine booster. The advisory committee was tasked to decide whether to recommend updating the Covid vaccine to contain an Omicron component for booster vaccines in the United States.
Public health officials are concerned that the arrival of colder weather that keeps people indoors along with emerging variants could result in a sharp rise in Covid cases. Here is what Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told STAT late last week.
“I think, as we move into this coming fall when there will be a confluence of factors that make us more susceptible to yet another wave of Covid-19, we feel it’s important to potentially look at what we could do with giving additional vaccinations, that is booster vaccinations, to protect us.”
I have to wonder what took the FDA so long? My wife and I both caught the Omicron variant of Covid six months ago. A daughter of a friend of my wife came home from college for Christmas with Covid. She passed it to her family, who passed it to my wife, who passed it to me. Just now the FDA is debating whether to ask vaccine makers to gear up for a fall Omicron outbreak likely a year after it first began to emerge.
Allow me to predict what will happen in the early winter of 2023. The news will be filled with stories about how the vaccine doesn’t provide good protection against the new Sigma variant. Then next June the FDA will again meet to discuss making the vaccine effective against Sigma just as Upsilon or Omega variants are emerging.