(Washington) — U.S. health officials said Wednesday they have agreed to purchase another 105 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in anticipation of a fall booster campaign.
Biden’s administration has announced a $3.2 billion deal as federal scientists examine how to upgrade vaccines in order to protect Americans against this rapidly-evolving virus. Officials from the federal government said that the agreement covers the purchase of up to 300 million doses. The mix can include doses for children and adults.
Initial shots are expected to be ready by autumn, subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. In the days ahead, the FDA will make its decision following Tuesday’s meeting. Outside advisors had recommended that vaccines were modified to better target Omicron-related variants.
Although the current vaccines offer strong protection against death and hospitalization, their effectiveness in blocking infection fell significantly when Omicron was introduced.
It’s not yet clear who would be offered a tweaked booster—they might be urged only for older adults or those at high risk from the virus. Pfizer and Moderna, a competitor, will need authorization from the FDA to adjust the dosages. The FDA decision on the recipe changes gives health officials time to determine a fall strategy.
Wednesday’s announcement came as Congress remained gridlocked over billions in funding requested by the Biden administration to purchase additional vaccines, tests and drugs to fight the pandemic. House and Senate legislators have been fighting for weeks to find a way out of the impasse. Officials said that the money for Pfizer’s latest purchase came from reallocated funds from previous COVID-19 relief programs.
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