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COVID-19 shots in fall will target latest omicron strain

NEW YORK — The next round of COVID-19 vaccines will target one of the latest versions of the coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

FDA’s decision came one day after an agency panel of outside advisers supported the recipe change. The agency told vaccine makers to provide protection against just one omicron strain, known as XBB.1.5.

Today’s shots include the original coronavirus and an earlier version of omicron. They do still help prevent severe disease and death even as XBB variants have taken over. But protection gradually wanes over time and was short-lived against milder infection even before the virus, inevitably, evolved again.

The three U.S. companies that make COVID-19 shots said this week they had geared up to make the formula change, in anticipation of making many millions of doses available for the fall. One company, Pfizer, said it could have at least some doses ready as early as next month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will eventually decide whether to recommend the shot for nearly all Americans or just for certain high-risk groups.

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