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White House Recommends Annual Covid Booster

09/10/2022

As the Omicron bivalent COVID vaccines are ready for release, the White House has issued a recommendation for annual vaccination paralleling the program for annual influenza vaccination.

 

The annual booster plan will prevent confusion and hopefully establish a routine pattern that will lead to high levels of population immunity, preventing acute COVID symptoms and limiting “long-COVID” that now appears to affect more than 25 million. 

 

It is estimated that the first generation of COVID mRNA vaccines saved as many as 20 million lives. Protection of our population is unfortunately incomplete with approximately 70 percent having received the two priming doses. Only a third are considered fully vaccinated following at least one booster.

 

Pharmaceutical companies are working on variations of existing vaccines that will hopefully be available within two years.  These may include:

  • Broad spectrum (pancoronavirus) vaccines to provide protection against a broad range of mutations.  According to Dr. Katelyn Jetelina in the Your Local Epidemiologist newsletter, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is developing a nanoparticle vaccine that incorporates RNA from a conserved region of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that will provide broad protection of variants that are certain to emerge.
  • Mucosal vaccines will stimulate tissue immunity and will be administered by inhalation following effective systemic immunity stimulated by injected mRNA vaccines.
  • Combination influenza and COVID vaccines - Novavax is conducting Phase II clinical trials on a combination vaccine that may be available in 2023.

 

In 2020 the development and production of a range of COVID vaccines was funded by the Federal government under the “Warp Speed” initiative. This relieved manufacturers (other than Pfizer) from the risks of investing up to $1 billion for R&D and completing trials through Phase-3, required for FDA approval.

 

We know that existing vaccines provide protection against severe clinical symptoms and hospitalization.  Until a new range of vaccines is available, we should take advantage of the convenience offered and be protected against both COVID and influenza through separate doses that can be administered simultaneously.