New Covid vaccines will be available in September. When the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign off on the new shots, they’ll be accessible to target the XBB variants of the virus. These are descended from the Omicron variant and are now the most common type in circulation.
Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax will manufacture the vaccines and say almost all children and adults will be eligible. The FDA is expected to approve over the next couple of weeks.
The vaccine’s launch will coincide with a new variant known as Eris. Experts are concerned that Americans are turning away from Covid vaccines as the take-up numbers have dropped significantly since the first shot was administered in 2021. At that time, more than 73% of the population (240 million) received the shot, but by 2022, fewer than 50 million agreed to take a booster.
Kaiser Family Foundation Director of Survey Methodology Ashley Kirzinger said, “Public health officials, if they want to see a majority of adults get these annual vaccines, they’re going to have to make the case to the American public that COVID isn’t over and it still poses a risk to them.”
The new Eris variant was classified EG.5 by the World Health Organization, meaning it could mutate into a more contagious or severe form of the virus and needs to be watched closely. Dr. Jessica Justman at Columbia University School of Public Health says there is little cause for concern, however. “From everything I’m seeing and reading and hearing, there’s no reason to think that this variant is likely to be more virulent, to cause more severe symptoms, to cause more hospitalizations or more deaths,” she said.
As of August 8, Eris had been located in 50 countries and is considered the fastest-growing COVID-19 subvariant in the US – responsible for around 17% of current cases. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.