Last month, the FDA authorized omicron-specific vaccines, accompanied by breathless science-by-press release and a media blitz. Just days after the FDA’s move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed, recommending updated boosters for anyone age 12 and up who had received at least two doses of the original covid vaccines. The message to a nation still struggling with the covid-19 pandemic: The cavalry — in the form of a shot — is coming over the hill.
But for those familiar with the business tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, that exuberant messaging — combined with the lack of completed studies — has caused considerable heartburn and raised an array of unanswered concerns.
The updated shots easily clear the “safe and effective” bar for government authorization. But in the real world, are the omicron-specific vaccines significantly more protective — and in what ways — than the original covid vaccines so many have already taken? If so, who would benefit most from the new shots? Since the federal government is purchasing these new vaccines — and many of the original, already purchased vaccines may never find their way into taxpayers’ arms — is the $3.2 billion price tag worth the unclear benefit? Especially when these funds had to be pulled from other covid response efforts, like testing and treatment.
Several members of the CDC advisory committee that voted 13-1 for the recommendation voiced similar questions and concerns, one saying she only “reluctantly” voted in the af …