WASHINGTON – Federal regulators are expected to allow mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster doses this week to provide flexibility as the campaign for additional vaccinations expands.
The upcoming FDA announcement is likely to be followed by approval for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters and the subsequent approval of a third dose of Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was announced Tuesday by a US health official familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.
The FDA was expected to say that using the same brand for the booster is still preferred, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which have proven to be most effective against the coronavirus. The agency was still finalizing the J&J single-dose vaccine manual.
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Preliminary results from a government study of various combinations of boosters have shown that an additional dose of any type raises levels of antibodies that fight the virus, regardless of the brand people first get. But J&J single-shot recipients had the most dramatic response, with a 76-fold and 35-fold jump in antibody levels, respectively, shortly after the Moderna or Pfizer booster, compared to a fourfold increase after the second vaccination. J&J shot.
One confusing decision is what dose of Moderna to recommend in combination with other brands. Moderna has filed for a booster at half the original dose, saying it is enough for people who have already received two full shots. But the combination-and-match study used full complementary doses, and there is no way to know if the Moderna booster will elicit the same strong response in J&J recipients.
Allowing mixing and reconciliation can make it easier for Americans to get a booster and allow people who may have had adverse reactions to the original dose to try another shot.
The US said last week that it would recognize combinations of overseas vaccines for entry into the country. This practice was common in Canada and some European countries in the early months of the vaccination campaign.
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