“This week, we begin a new phase in our Covid-19 response. We are launching a new vaccine, our first in almost two years, with a new approach. For most Americans, that means one Covid-19 shot, once a year, each fall,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“If you are vaccinated and twelve and older, get the new Covid-19 shot this fall. This once-a-year shot can reduce your risk of getting Covid-19, reduce your chance of spreading it to others, and dramatically reduce your risk of severe Covid-19,” he continued.
During a White House press briefing earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, stated that “it is becoming increasingly clear that, looking forward with the Covid-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving toward a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual updated Covid-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population.”
However, both Fauci and Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, acknowledged that a “variant curveball” in the future could potentially undermine the administration’s long-term vaccination plan.
“Barring those variant curveballs, for a large majority of Americans, we are moving to the point where a single annual Covid shot should provide a high degree of protection against serious illness all year,” Jha said.
“That’s an important milestone,” he added.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that given the history of Omicron’s rapid evolution since it emerged late last year, the booster shots that were previously authorized from the original-formula vaccines “have done pretty well in reconstituting the waning immunity” of the overall population.
“If we continue to have an evolution of what we used to call, and still do call, an influenza adrift—not a major change, but just sort of drifting along the BA.5 sublineage,” he continued. “I believe that that would fit in well with what we’re talking about, the likelihood that we’ll get into a cadence that, on a yearly basis for most people, we’ll be able to cover what is out there as the dominant variant.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.