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US government buys 66 million doses of Moderna’s Omicron booster
The US government has confirmed its plans to begin a booster vaccination campaign this autumn, and has placed a $1.74 billion order for 66 million doses of an updated version of Moderna’s Spikevax shot.
This updated vaccine will target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which are responsible for most of the COVID-19 cases around the world currently.
Moderna’s current clinical data is for a shot based on the original Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and the first Omicron subvariant (BA.1) that emerged towards the end of 2021. However, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) concluded in a recent meeting that future booster campaigns should ideally include jabs which target BA.4 and BA.5. Moderna’s initial BA.1-based booster showed lesser activity against the new subvariants.
Moderna is now advancing both BA.1 and BA.4/5 candidates into clinical testing “based on different population health security strategies in different countries”.
This order comes after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ordered
105 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s updated vaccine in June.
The second booster doses will be available for Americans 50 years and older, as well as for younger people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues.
Approximately 107 million people have now received a first COVID-19 booster jab, according to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Moderna, the supply contract also includes an option to purchase another 234 million doses of its booster shot.