Vaccine booster mix-and-match approach poised for FDA clearance

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Fall boosters engineered to target the BA.4 and BA.5 versions of omicron may be quickly outpaced. Still, those booster shots remain the best tool on the shelf.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to clear the use of a COVID-19 booster from a different manufacturer than the one that supplied a patient’s original inoculation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FDA is still considering the scope of the measure, including whether to allow the widespread mixing and matching of vaccines or whether to narrow the parameters of use, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity before any announcement.

The FDA declined to comment and it’s not clear when a decision will be announced. Allowing mixing-and-matching would be the agency’s first such clearance for coronavirus vaccines.

While the scope remains under discussion and may come with restrictions, the recommendation is expected to apply across all vaccine brands.

For instance, that means someone who originally received Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine could get a booster shot from Moderna Inc. or Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which is based on a different technology. Or, someone who received an initial two shots of the Moderna vaccine could get a Pfizer-BioNTech SE booster.

Mixing and matching would allow providers to stock fewer vaccines and more easily provide boosters to patients who had different initial inoculations.

The New York Times earlier reported that the FDA is planning to allow mixing and matching.

Preliminary results of a U.S. government-sponsored trial found that mixing coronavirus vaccines produces as much or more antibodies as using the same shot as a booster.

The findings were discussed at an FDA advisory panel meeting on Friday. While no formal vote was taken, many committee members said mixing and matching should be allowed.

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