Updated Pfizer COVID Boosters May Be Approved by End of August

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Aug. 2, 2023 -- Pfizer’s CEO says the FDA could approve the company’s updated COVID-19 booster shots by the end of the month.

Albert Bourla made the statement Tuesday during an investor call, NBC News reported.

Pfizer and Moderna asked the FDA in June to approve a new version of their boosters aimed at the XBB.1.5 subvariant, which started spreading widely in the winter. That was right after the FDA advised them to update the shots against XBB.1.5 before the fall booster efforts.

The subvariant makes up 12.3% of recent new cases, the CDC says. A related strain, XBB.1.16, accounts for about 15%. FDA advisers have said there won’t be much difference in effectiveness against the strains because they are so similar.

NBC said the FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bourla’s statements.

COVID hospitalizations are rising in the United States and are expected to continue to increase as cooler seasons approach. Hospitalizations are still lower than at any point during the pandemic, NBC reported.

“We expect a new Covid wave to start in the U.S. this fall,” Bourla said.

NBC said it isn’t known whether the boosters will be recommended for everyone in the country. The CDC will decide that, probably after the FDA authorizes the shots.

The CDC says only 17% of Americans have opted to receive the booster shots so far.