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FDA to refocus COVID vaccine strategy to get ahead of virus

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – An independent advisory committee voted 19-to-2 vote to allow the FDA to refocus which strains of coronavirus are targeted by the vaccines.

The original omicron strain responsible for last year’s winter surge is virtually extinct. Relatives of omicron–B.4 and B.5–have taken over. 

This raises the question if the country will ever get ahead of the virus. News 8 spoke with Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, who explains how scientists are pivoting to a different strategy in order to keep up.  

“As they evolve we need to have the vaccines move a little more quickly to respond to those strains,” he said. “So, that would actually trigger a different process in terms of the research and the data behind future approvals. It would get them more in line with what we do with the influenza vaccine. That vaccine that is approved every year does not have to go through a whole new round of human trials.” 

Doehring also says this means switching from human trials to animal trials. If we adopt this new updated approach like we do for the flu vaccine, he continues, it will give us a better opportunity to stay current as COVID evolves and moves toward a seasonal virus.