US CDC recommends updated COVID vaccines for those aged six months and older

Children under 5 receive COVID-19 vaccines in Schwenksville

By Mariam Sunny and Christy Santhosh

(Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that individuals aged six months and older should be given an updated COVID-19 vaccine for the 2024-25 immunization campaign, irrespective of whether they have previously been vaccinated for the disease.

The agency's recommendation on Thursday echoed that of its panel of outside experts, who voted unanimously to recommend the use of updated COVID-19 vaccines, as authorized or approved by the FDA, in those aged six months and older.

The recommendation will take effect as soon as the new vaccines from Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer become available later this year, the CDC said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked vaccine manufacturers earlier this month to update the new shots to target the KP.2 variant if feasible, instead of the JN.1 lineage it had sought to target earlier.

Moderna and Novavax had submitted their applications to the FDA for updating the fall 2024 season shots targeting the JN.1 strain.

Novavax said it intended to make its updated vaccine available at the start of the vaccination season upon receiving FDA authorization, adding that its shot showed broad cross-neutralizing antibodies against multiple variants, including KP.2 and KP.3.

Pfizer and Moderna make messenger RNA vaccines, which can be developed more quickly than Novavax's protein-based shot.

The JN.1 variant was the dominant strain in the United States earlier this year. While it is no longer as prevalent, it is estimated to account for 4.4% of cases over the two-week period ended June 22, according to CDC data.

The KP.2 strain was estimated to account for about 20.8% of cases, while KP.3, now becoming dominant, was at 33.1%.

Pfizer said it was holding global discussions with regulators including the FDA, to assess the composition of future COVID vaccine formulations.

Moderna said it would be ready with the updated shot in time for the fall vaccination campaign, while Pfizer and partner BioNTech said they would be ready to supply their updated vaccines immediately upon approval.

Pfizer and Moderna said they were ready to supply vaccines targeting either the JN.1 or KP.2 variants.

(Reporting by Christy Santhosh and Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)