Anticipating a surge in booster shots this fall, the U.S. government said Wednesday that it is buying an added 105 million more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The $3.2 billion deal comes at a time when the government is trying to figure out the best way to update COVID vaccines to deal with the ever-changing virus. The deal also gives the government the option to buy a total of 300 million doses, which includes vaccines for adults and children, the Associated Press reported.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have reported positive results with updated vaccines that target the Omicron variant. But two new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, have taken hold in the United States and now account for the majority of new COVID cases.
Pfizer will start delivering booster doses in the fall after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves new versions of the vaccine to try to deal with the latest variants of the virus, the AP reported. On Tuesday, an FDA advisory panel voted to recommend that the FDA approve the updated shots that both Pfizer and Moderna have developed for the fall.
The FDA is expected to authorize the new formulations soon. The original vaccine has not been as effective in preventing infection from the Omicron variant but has prevented hospitalization and death.
It’s not yet clear who will be offered the new booster shots, the AP said. It might only be for adults at risk for infection.
Once the FDA approves the concept of a changed vaccine, both Pfizer and Moderna will need FDA approval before their vaccines are available to the public.
The latest vaccine purchase comes as Congress is still stalling in authorizing billions for the purchase of more vaccine, tests and drugs to fight COVID-19. The finding for this new vaccine purchase comes from monies already approved to fight COVID-19, the AP noted.
Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more on boosters.