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FDA lays out annual Covid shot plan similar to flu

US drug regulators are setting out a plan for updating Covid-19 vaccines similar to the one in place for flu that will include at least annual reviews of new strains to be targeted by shots.

The proposed strain selection process will be considered during a meeting of Food and Drug Administration advisers that will take place Jan. 26. The FDA plans to meet each June to review strains of the virus to select which one to use in shots to be deployed no later than September of each year, according to documents released ahead of the meeting.

Health officials convene each year to choose dominant strains of flu that will be included in annual shots. Waning immunity from Covid vaccinations and the emergence of new variants every few months has led regulators to recommend variant-targeted boosters, a tactic that so far has been unpopular among Americans and even had some health experts split on costs and benefits.

Just weeks after rolling out the updated BA.4 and BA.5 boosters in September, new mutations were rampant. Now as the US sees the rise of an immune-evasive variant called XBB.1.5, booster uptake is hovering at about 15%. Bloomberg

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