A federal advisory committee of outside experts will meet Wednesday to help shape the U.S. coronavirus vaccine strategy for the rest of the year, amid growing evidence that new variants have eroded the strength of existing vaccines.
The Food and Drug Administration panel is trying to determine where the United States is headed in its effort to seek reconfigured vaccines that could help better protect against new variants that have emerged over the past six months.
The meeting, which starts at 8.30 am Dutch time, is a kind of transition point for the federal government, which is plagued by many uncertainties. Many scientists have concluded that existing vaccines need to be modified to cope with the evolving virus. Federal officials are eager to know how to do that as soon as possible to avoid facing the nation with a scenario where the virus will resurface in the fall and vaccine protections will be exhausted.
The committee will listen to a cast of celebrities, including experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization and the FDA’s Office of Vaccine Research.
Sharon Alroy-Preis, the director of public health services at Israel’s Ministry of Health, will detail Israel’s experience administering a second booster injection to people over 60 earlier this year.
The FDA, which relied heavily on Israeli data, last week approved a second booster for Americans 50 and older. dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the CDC director, recommended those shots for people over the age of 65 and anyone ages 50 to 64 with serious underlying health conditions.
Some immunologists and vaccine experts, including at least one member of the FDA’s panel of experts, have said the federal government has gone too far with too little data. Those complaints are likely to be voiced during the discussion of Israel’s experiences.