New Covid-19 Omicron vaccine in the United States: Here's everything we know

After the UK's approval of the Omicron vaccine, will the U.S. follow suit?

COVID-19 Omicron vaccine in the United States: Divided Opinions
© Andriy Onufriyenko
COVID-19 Omicron vaccine in the United States: Divided Opinions

After the U.K. became the first country to approve a dual-strain booster that targets both Omicron and the original coronavirus, the United States prepares for an autumn of infection.

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Omicron on the rise

Despite presenting less severe symptoms, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant is known as the most transmissible of its sister strains. According to UCDavis Health, it is the most prevalent strain in the U.S. today and can even evade immunity from previous infection by other omicron strains, like BA.1.

Moderna’s recently UK-approved vaccine, Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron, is targeted at Omicron BA.1, reports Financial Times. This means that the BA.5 may remain on the loose, and with more infections comes the possibility of new variants.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has urged producers of vaccines to skip production aimed at Omicron BA.1 in order to charge ahead in thefight against BA.4 and .5, Darius Hughes of Moderna says the U.S. is on a ‘separate highway’ regarding vaccine approval.

Best-case scenario, the BA.1-based Omicron vaccine will reach healthcare professionals in the U.S. around October. Worst-case scenario, COVID will have mutated into a whole new variant by that point, saysThe Atlantic.

Omicron on the rise David Talukdar

Divided opinions in the United States

As more Americans are starting to jump off the vaccination train, stock may seem of lesser concern than in previous years. However, congressional funding for COVID remains low. While Biden has agreed to order over 100,000 doses of Moderna’s new, bivalent vaccine, top COVID-coordinator, Ashish Jha, is worried that there still will not be enough supply for everyone who wants one.

Exactly how the vaccines would be rolled out also remains a question. It could be based on state’s populations or even which states have the greatest vaccination rates.

The good news amidst all this uncertainty? Nearly 3 years of COVID means that once decided upon, distribution should run fairly smooth.

Big Cities Health Coalition executive director, Chrissie Juliano, told The Atlantic:

With a year and a half of experience under their belts, health workers know how to roll out COVID shots.

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