The Biden administration is “in discussions” to ensure that it can obtain booster COVID-19 shots if they become necessary, a top official told lawmakers on Thursday. The announcement comes as drugmakers are touting their progress in developing the additional shots, which are designed to increase the body’s immune response months after the initial doses are administered.
“We are in discussions right now, making sure that we can secure those vaccines for a boost or variants. We are in that process right now,” Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the administration’s COVID-19 response, told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Federal health officials and drugmakers have said for months that booster shots would likely be required at some point, though it’s not yet clear when that will be. The shots will likely be very similar to the original version of the vaccines, but may be administered in different doses or be tweaked to protect against variants.
Kessler cautioned that “no decision” had been reached over the strategy of how the booster shots would be administered, citing ongoing research into how long the immunity created by the vaccines lasts. Recent studies from Pfizer and Moderna suggest their COVID-19 shots remain effective for at least 6 months.
“With many vaccines, we understand that at a certain point in time we need to boost, whether that’s 9 months, 12 months. And we are preparing for that,” Kessler said.
The companies behind all three of the COVID-19 vaccines currently allowed for use in the United States have said they are pursuing additional shots.