FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Moderna Boosters for Those Older than 65 and Those at High-Risk
A vaccine advisory panel of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously today that seniors and other Americans at high risk of COVID infection, who received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago, should get half-dose boosters to bolster their protection against the virus.
Moderna chose the lower-dose of the booster because it triggered fewer uncomfortable shot reactions, such as fever and achiness, but, at the same time, the smaller dosage also leaves more vaccine available for those around the world who need it.
Just as Pfizer started doing on Sept. 22, the FDA committee recommended that Moderna soon offer reduced-doses boosters to seniors and younger adults who are immunocompromised, or who work in jobs or reside in living situations that put them at increased risk for COVID-19.
The vaccine advisory panel, however, does not make final decisions, which are made by the FDA. If the FDA decides to recommend the Moderna booster, then a panel of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will determine which specifically which Americans with get the boosters.
The evidence, the advisory panel said, does not necessarily suggest that Americans of all ages and situations should receive the booster, and that the first doses may continue to provide enough protection against severe illness and death from COVID.
As hospitalization rates worldwide plunge at rates that run opposite when vaccination rates increase, COVID mostly continues to threaten unvaccinated people, who remain 99% of those hospitalized with the virus.
In August, Moderna said that its vaccine remains 90% effective against preventing COVID for at least six months, however, after that time, studies have shown that patients’ antibodies against COVID start to decline.
As coronavirus continues to mutate and circulate a third shot of the vaccine showed increased and robust antibody responses against the variants, Moderna said.
Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal that the boosters are necessary because the immunity of recipients of the vaccines will continue to decrease over time.
“We’re playing it safe, not only for delta, but also for what’s coming after,” Bancel said. “I don’t think the virus is done.”
Tomorrow the FDA committee, called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, will discuss the safety and efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson booster.
(Darren McGee- Office of Formor Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)