A new COVID-19 vaccine design is expected in early July, which would allow vaccine companies to begin production this fall and winter. Food and Drug Administration vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said the decision would likely come from the FDA shortly after its advisory committee meets on June 28 to review data from the vaccine companies about the versions of next-generation vaccines they're testing.
"We'll have to make some decision by early July to make sure that the manufacturers know what we're looking to do, so that they know what they have to start producing in large quantities," Marks, who serves as director of the department that oversees vaccines within the FDA, told ABC News in an interview.
Second boosters for wider age-range?
Because of recent surges of cases, the FDA is considering the option of opening up second boosters for a wider age-range to cope with the current situation. This decision would have to be made in the next few weeks to intervene effectively.
"I can tell you that that discussion is already happening internally -- it's just that I can't tell you what the outcome will be at this point," Mark said.
"We would not be doing our job as public health professionals if we weren't thinking about it, and thinking about the benefits and risks," he added.
Even though opening up second boosters is a temporary option, the vaccines for the fall are intended to offer a more lengthy, durable protection.
"We'd be looking at things like at least 10% higher in terms of immune response, if not more, against the currently circulating virus," Marks said, laying out the criteria the FDA is looking for in the future vaccines.
The coming vaccines would have to be more effective and be able to combat the current variants and subvariants for them to be valuable enough to replace the vaccines in use now.
Who would get a new vaccine?
The new vaccines are expected to be eligible for all ages at around the same time, unlike the current length waiting time between older and younger age groups with the vaccine, said Mark. FDA also hopes to get both Pfizer and Moderna to produce vaccines to target the same strains, to lessen the confusion some citizens have of the different vaccines.
Resources in question
Of course, there are still more problems involving fundings that haven’t been solved. The White House has yet to give out more COVID funding, and this delay of funding would impact those citizens who wish to get the new vaccine this fall.
FDA has considered that not everyone needs a vaccine, and that only those over 50, or even 65, need another booster shot.
"I'm not worried about who's paying for what. I'm worried about making sure that our recommendations that come out of FDA are the right thing by the people of this country in terms of their health," Marks said.