A panel of Food and Drug Administration expert advisors voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend updating the COVID-19 vaccine to target emerging subvariants of omicron.
The currently available COVID vaccine is known as a « bivalent » vaccine because it has been adapted to target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the omicron subvariants that dominated this past winter.
But the FDA panel recommended that drugmakers abandon the bivalent design and instead switch to a « monovalent » vaccine that targets only subvariants of omicron. The idea is to roll out the newly worded shots in anticipation of a possible surge in cases this fall.
In one analysis, FDA scientists said data from vaccine manufacturers indicate that an updated monovalent formulation targeting XBB subvariants « elicits stronger neutralizing antibody responses » against XBB strains than current bivalent vaccines.
Currently, the XBB.1.5 strain accounts for approximately 40% of new infections in the United States
This is a developing story