On one front, the US government has been trying hard to get as many people vaccinated against COVID19 as possible. On the other front, scientists have been working hard on the form of the next-generation vaccines that should be introduced. As per the latest, they are trying to blend the next-generation vaccines with the seasonal flu vaccine. They might introduce these COVID boosters in the form of a pill or a patch. Scientists are hopeful that these vaccines might protect people from many other viruses that can lead to many other pandemics in the future other than the SARS-CoV-2 virus. At present, experts have been evaluating whether or not people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID19 will require these booster shots. These booster shots will be nearly identical to the first doses of the first generation of vaccines. These additional shots will be given to protect people against the risk of waning immunity and other mutants of the virus. Some new variants of the virus have been a huge matter of concern for many health experts. Three companies that already have vaccines approved by the US government, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are planning to develop such booster shots. As per the report, these companies have already started testing a booster shot. The booster shots will be quite similar to the first-generation vaccines but they might come in smaller doses.
Dr. David Kessler, who is a chief science officer for the COVID19 Response team of the administration, has said that experts have seen over the years that many vaccines need a boost after a certain time period like after 9 months or 12 months. Moderna is planning to test booster shots that will be combined with the seasonal flu shots. The company has informed that it has started the trial of these boosters. Many other combinations of vaccines are used to protect children against many diseases. However, the officials from the administration have said that they have not decided on how these booster shots will be used or if they will be even required. Health experts have said that though booster shots restore the body’s immunity to the virus by imitating parts of the original strain that has been first found in China, scientists have been working hard to modify the doses to target new variants of the virus as well. Experts have claimed that some new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been spreading quite fast and they might lead to severe infection. They have assured that this phenomenon is not an uncommon thing, seasonal flu vaccines are regularly modified to target mutations that are found in viruses across the world. Dr. John Mascola, who is the head of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, has said that federal scientists are trying to understand multiple mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has said that some experts are trying to study the effects of these mutations on the efficiency of vaccines. A couple of scientists are trying to understand and track the epitope spots of the virus.
Moderna and Pfizer are planning to develop their booster shots that will be adjusted for the strain that has been identified in South Africa known as B.1.351. However, research has shown that their first-generation vaccines might be most effective against this mutant. A study has found that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that has not been approved in the US offers very little protection against the South African variant. Dr. John Mascola has said that drug makers are focusing on this strain as among all the variants of concern (VOCs) in the world, the South African strain has been found to be the most antigenically diverse. He has said that developing a booster shot with the South African strain might offer more immunity. Scientists are planning to come up with booster shots that do not require needles and syringes. As per the report, the record demand for such equipment has exhausted the global supply chain during various vaccination programs. A booster shot that does not rely on needles and syringes will be more cost-effective, said the experts. For example, an inhaler booster shot will be convenient to store.
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