A late-summer uptick in COVID-19 infections indicated that the viruses were thriving in the increased heat. COVID hospitalizations rose nearly 16 percent and deaths by 10.5 percent during the third week of August, and Jill Biden was announced positive last week.
Experts now warn of increased COVID-19 infections expected during fall with students returning to schools. In response, the US Food and Drug Administration advised manufacturers to develop vaccines targeting XBB.1.5 — one of the dominant variants at the time.
While the updated bivalent COVID boosters were formulated to target the XBB1.5 Omicron sub-variant, they are expected to offer increased protection against EG.5 as well — belonging to the same family tree. Pfizer’s new vaccine has already been approved in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Scientists are also monitoring BA.2.86 closely, another Omicron descendant that is much better at escaping the antibodies produced by previous infections. Initial research indicates that the new booster shot might not be very effective against this variant.
While the jury is still out on the long-term effectiveness of these vaccines, most experts share the same opinion: people who want a booster should wait for the upcoming shot unless an emergency presses them.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with information regarding the FDA’s approval of updated COVID-19 vaccines amid increasing cases.