Reports: FDA approval for ‘mix and match’ approach to COVID-19 boosters expected this week

WASHINNGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to give Americans the option later this week to choose a different COVID-19 vaccine as a booster from the one they received for their initial inoculation, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday.

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In addition to potentially authorizing the mix-and-match approach for boosters, the FDA is also expected to approve booster candidates put forth by both Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson before Friday, a person familiar with the decisions told the Journal.

According to the Times, which first reported the development, the move could provide the flexibility that state health officials have been seeking for weeks.

Meanwhile, people familiar with the agency’s plans told the Times that the government has no intention of recommending one shot above another but may advise that using the same vaccine as a booster that was received initially, when possible, is preferred.

To date, the FDA has only authorized extra COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems. Meanwhile, the agency authorized only Pfizer’s boosters for those aged 65 and older and those at high risk for severe illness.

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Preliminary National Institutes of Health data indicated that mixing and matching could provide more protection than revisiting the same initial vaccine, such as in the case of people who took a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the Journal reported.

Meanwhile, some doctors and health authorities have petitioned for the mix-and-match allowance as a means of simplifying logistics and ensuring that access to vaccines based on manufacturer does not prevent any eligible American who wants to receive one from doing so, the newspaper reported.

Specifically, the NIH study found that recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot who received a Moderna COVID-19 booster experienced as much as a 76-fold increase in their antibody levels over the course of 15 days, compared with only a four- to 20-fold increase after an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the FDA is expected to authorize boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines by Wednesday evening and could make their “mix-and-match” ruling as early as that same day.

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