FDA Approves COVID Boosters Targeting BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron Variants

Meanwhile, the director of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department says transmission rates may dip into the ”low” category next week

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in a Wednesday virtual press conference that the public health agency has authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, in addition to the strain covered by the original vaccines.

“These formulations of the vaccines are authorized for use as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf.

He specified that the updated Moderna booster is available for individuals 18 years and older, while Pfizer’s is approved for individuals 12 years and older.

“These updated boosters meet the FDA’s rigorous standards and are expected to help restore immune protection against COVID-19,” he added. “These updated boosters present an opportunity to get ahead of the next predicated wave of COVID-19. These updated boosters are critical in helping protect teens and adults from the most serious outcomes of COVID-19 caused by the currently circulating variant.”

The FDA also clarified, “If you are eligible for an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster, the updated booster you receive does not need to be from the same manufacturer that made the vaccine you received for your primary vaccination or previous booster.”

The authorization comes as summer nears its end, signaling temperature decreases across the nation that will drive more people indoors for gatherings, where transmission rates are higher.

Fortunately for Los Angeles County residents, it appears the current wave of COVID-19 circulating is on the decline from a peak in cases in mid-July.

Barbara Ferrer, the director of L.A. County’s Public Health Department, told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that “barring some real explosion of a new variant … I think within the next week or 10 days we should expect a continued decline in cases.”

She predicted that the CDC may move the county from the “medium” virus-activity category to “low,” which has no practical impact on residents, other than, perhaps, more peace of mind.

Moving into the “low” category depends on the hospitalization rate remaining below 10 per 100,000 residents, as well as new infections falling below 200 per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, that daily rate of infection was 213 per 100,000 people.

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