Coronavirus boosters continue to cause confusion as the United States faces the possibility of a new strain capable of evading immunity. Federal officials are considering switching to an annual shot model.
The XBB.1.5 variant of omicron is a highly transmissible derivative. It is currently estimated that it is responsible for about half the new infections in the country. Early laboratory studies revealed that this variant was particularly effective in evading antiviral antibodies. There are concerns that it may slip through the new boosters more easily.
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was released Wednesday. It confirms that the booster shots, which were introduced in the fall and are still effective in protecting people in real-world situations.
Bivalent booster shots protect against both the original strain as well as the BA.5 subvariant, which caused the majority of summer-related infections. Recent data show that the booster works just as well against XBB.1.5 than it does against BA.
The CDC data arrived around the same time that the Food and Drug Administration is considering switching the country’s vaccine strategy to mimic the one used for the flu, with people getting annual shots targeting whichever strain is predicted to dominate during the fall and winter.
The Washington Post received hundreds upon hundreds of questions regarding booster shots from a reader recently, amid a flurry of new information Live chat with Health reporters and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Here’s what we know and don’t know about boosters.