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FDA approves Pfizer and Moderna covid vaccines with new formula

FDA approves Pfizer and Moderna covid vaccines with new formula


The new vaccines no longer target protection against the original covid variants and instead contain spike proteins for the omicron variant XBB.1.5.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Food and Drug Administration has approved newly formulated covid vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Unlike booster shots released in the past, this vaccine isn’t made with components of the original covid variants that spread in 2020. It’s a monovalent vaccine that targets an omicron subvariant instead, reports The New York Times, as advised by the FDA in June.

The new vaccines specifically address the omicron variant XBB.1.5, which became the dominant covid strain in certain parts of the US last winter and is more closely related to EG.5, which currently accounts for 21.5 percent of cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chart showing prevalence of covid variants based on CDC data, reported through August and with estimates into September.
National SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance program sequences a nationally representative selection of clinical respiratory specimens to identify and monitor the spread of variants.
Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While the FDA approved the vaccines for people 12 years of age and older, it has authorized the shots for emergency use for children between six months old and 11 years of age. The CDC issued its recommendation on Tuesday that people six months and older should get an updated covid vaccine, noting that vaccination “remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.”

The vaccines will become available to the public later this week. As a result of the update, the previous boosters from Moderna and Pfizer are no longer authorized for use in the US. The updated vaccines are “expected to provide good protection against COVID-19 from the currently circulating variants,” the FDA says, adding that the “composition” of the shots may need an annual update going forward, similar to what we see with flu vaccines.

Update September 12th, 6:19PM ET: Added the CDC’s recommendation.