FDA eyes major vaccine strategy changes: 3 COVID-19 updates

The FDA is considering a new COVID-19 vaccination strategy that would mirror the process for creating and administering annual flu shots, federal documents show.

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will convene Jan. 26 to discuss and vote on the proposed process. 

"FDA anticipates conducting an assessment of SARS-CoV-2 strains at least annually and to engage VRBPAC in about early June of each year regarding strain selection for the fall season," FDA wrote in a briefing document released Jan. 23. "Subsequently, a decision on the recommended vaccine composition would be made in time for any updated vaccine to be in production in time to be deployed for use no later than September of each calendar year."

The group of experts will also consider standardizing the composition of primary series and booster shots to a single composition. At present, primary series vaccines have a different composition than bivalent boosters, which target the original omicron strain and the BA.4/BA.5 strains. 

Two more COVID-19 updates:

1. XBB.1.5 accounts for 49.1 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, CDC estimates show. Despite the subvariant's growing prevalence, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths fell nationwide last week, according to the CDC's COVID-19 data tracker weekly review published Jan. 20. 

2. Daily COVID-19 hospital admissions are projected to remain stable or have an uncertain trend over the next four weeks, with 1,400 to 10,800 new daily admissions likely reported on Feb. 10, according to the CDC's ensemble forecast from 15 modeling groups. The current seven-day average for new admissions was 4,834 as of Jan. 17, CDC data shows. Deaths are also projected to remain stable or have an uncertain trend over the next month.


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