The Biden administration plans to provide updated footage in September

The Biden administration now expects to begin a booster campaign for Covid-19 with repackaged vaccines in September because Pfizer and Moderna have promised they can provide doses by then, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

With updated formulas apparently getting closer, federal officials decided not to expand eligibility for second boosters to existing vaccines this summer. The new versions are expected to perform better against the now dominant Omicron BA.5 sub-variant, although the data available to date is still preliminary.

At this point, Americans over 50 years of age and over 12 years of age who were immunocompromised were eligible for a second booster dose. Despite pressure from some federal officials to bolster protections for younger Americans now, officials agreed on the goal of boosting everyone’s immunity in the fall with what will hopefully be more effective boosters, before a potential winter wave of the virus.

In internal deliberations, some top health officials have argued that eligibility for a second booster should be expanded before the reformulated version is ready because coronavirus infections are on the rise again. Dr. Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, and Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator, backed this position.

“I think there should be flexibility and at least indulgence in allowing” a second boost to younger Americans, Dr. Fauci said in an interview this month. One alternative discussed was to provide injections only to a subset of younger at-risk individuals, such as pregnant women.

But officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have argued that the government should focus instead on the fall campaign with updated doses — if the campaign can begin soon enough. After both Pfizer and Moderna recently confirmed to the Food and Drug Administration that they could deliver millions of doses by mid-September, regulators decided it was best to wait for those shots.

All adults are expected to be eligible for updated booster shots. Children could be eligible, too, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

The federal government also plans to continue to ensure that anyone eligible for additional shots should get it now and not wait for fall. As of midweek, health officials were still working on providing their specific advice about the remastered shots.

One concern was the assertion that people didn’t get a booster dose now followed by another with the updated formula too soon. Officials expressed concern that, especially for young adults, use of two consecutive boosters might increase the risk of a rare heart-related side effect, myocarditis, which has been linked to the Pfizer and Moderne vaccines.

For other reasons, immunologists caution against receiving booster doses in short periods of time.

“You can’t get the Aug. 1 vaccine and get another one on Sept. 9. You have a lot of antibodies, if you get,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology, “and expect the second shot to do anything.” On another dose, you won’t do anything.”

He added that “antibodies stop the next dose from working” if the next dose is given too soon – a pattern that applies to other vaccines, such as tetanus or flu vaccines, too.

Federal officials were also concerned about the public’s patience with the extra shots. The number of recipients decreased with each new dose offered. While nearly half of those eligible for the first booster chose to take it, for example, fewer than 30 percent of eligible Americans chose to receive the second booster—the fourth shot in total.

The Biden administration has been busy contracting the newly designed doses. The Department of Health and Human Services recently purchased 105 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for $3.2 billion, timed for potential deployment in the fall. Management is expected to finalize a similar agreement with Moderna soon.

The government’s decision comes as cases of the highly contagious BA.5 virus remain high across the country. The number of deaths and hospitalizations has risen in recent weeks. The number of new cases announced each day has reached nearly 130,000 — likely much lower due to the number of home tests that go unreported — and President Biden has just had his own fit with the surrogate.

Deaths from Covid-19 remain highly concentrated among the older age groups, while hospitalizations remain well below the peak of the Omicron wave last winter.

At a late June meeting of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee, independent vaccine experts overwhelmingly agreed on the need to update coronavirus vaccines because the virus is now more adept at evading protection. But both Pfizer and Moderna were reluctant to commit to introducing doses with a revised formula early in the fall.

Catherine Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research, said at the meeting that her company was ready to provide doses by early October. Dr. Stephen Hogg, president of Moderna, said his company won’t be able to offer remastered footage until late October or early November.

But recently, both companies assured federal officials that they can speed up their schedules and get ready in early September, according to people familiar with the discussions.

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