U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory group set to vote on whether or not to approve a third dose of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, as Biden administration steps up efforts to get vaccinated more Americans.
Moderna is hoping for approval on Thursday of a booster vaccine that includes 50 micrograms of vaccine, half of its usual dose but still higher than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which contains 30 micrograms.
The FDA last month approved Pfizer-BioNTech boosters jabs for specific segments of the US population.
FDA Advisory Committee to Vote on Whether Moderna Boosters should be given six months after second dose to people 65 years of age and older, those at high risk of severe COVID-19, and people aged 18 to 64 who are frequently exposed to coronavirus infections due to their jobs.
President Joe Biden, who is pushing US companies to pass mandatory vaccine requirements, said Thursday he expects the FDA to approve more recalls and vaccines for children soon as the pandemic of coronavirus in the United States appears to be easing.
“It’s working. We’re making progress,” Biden said in remarks to the White House.
After seeing an increase in infections in the middle of the year, the United States is now experiencing a drop in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Over the past six weeks, daily COVID-19 cases have declined 47% nationwide, while hospitalizations have declined 38%, Biden said, citing data from the COVID-19 task force of the White House.
But U.S. officials fear that as the North American population congeals indoors over the coming colder winter months, infection rates could rise again. “Now is not the time to let go. We have a lot more to do, ”Biden said.
There are 66 million American adults who have not yet been vaccinated, he added.
The US president has urged private companies to demand that workers get vaccinated, and the US Department of Labor is preparing to issue an emergency rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to demand vaccines.
“Every day we see more and more companies implementing immunization requirements, and growing data shows they are working,” Biden said.
Biden’s willingness to demand vaccines has met with resistance, however, especially in areas of the country ruled by Republicans.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an order on Oct. 11 to ban private companies from imposing vaccination warrants. White House officials have said federal rules supersede such state orders.
“Vaccination requirements shouldn’t be another issue that divides us. This is why we continue to fight against the misinformation that is circulating, ”Biden said.
If the FDA approves Moderna’s recall, as planned, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make specific recommendations on who should get the vaccine. Biden said he also expects Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to be approved for booster shots soon.
In a hearing Thursday ahead of the expected FDA advisory group vote, Israeli health officials said booster injections of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had improved protection against severe cases of COVID-19 in people aged 40 and over in Israel.
“What we are seeing is a break in the epidemic curve in Israel,” said Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, director of public health services at the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Alroy-Preis said that the Israeli booster vaccination program, which now comprises 50 percent of the population in all age groups, is starting to reduce infections even among unvaccinated populations in Israel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the rich countries like the United States of not offering boosters until more people in less developed countries receive a first dose of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked for $ 8 billion to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines can be equitably distributed around the world.