A vial labeled “VACCINE Coronavirus COVID-19” is shown in front of a stock graph in this depiction from January 17, 2022.
Despite the rising hospitalization rates caused by “Eris” and other variations of the Omicron form of coronavirus, health experts and analysts are optimistic that a new COVID vaccine, due to be released next month, will be received with caution.
Public health experts predict that Americans will embrace the new shot in the same way they would with a flu jab. However, the vaccine’s demand has decreased significantly since 2021 when it was first released and 73% of the U.S. population received at least one shot.
The COVID virus or vaccine had already been consumed by over 50 million people in the fall of 2022, when most individuals were still receiving shots.
Next month, CVS Health (CVS.N) and other healthcare providers will offer the shot that is specifically designed to combat the Omicron strain of the virus that has been prevalent since last year.
According to Ashley Kirzinger, the Director of Survey Methodology at Kaiser Family Foundation, individuals will struggle against their diminishing concern for the virus, fatigue, and skepticism about the vaccine’s potential benefits.
The American public must be convinced that COVID is still a risk for them, according to Kirzinger, as public health officials aim to ensure that most adults receive these annual vaccines.
According to her, the primary reason vaccinated individuals avoided annual vaccinations in KFF surveys conducted earlier this year was their belief that they had immunity from the virus due to previous shots or infections.
COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have reduced their expectations for the fall vaccination campaign. Pfizer, which is the biggest producer of mRNA shots with BioNTech, has warned that it may need to lay off workers if it performs poorly. Moderna, the company’s main competitor, admitted that demand could be as low as 50 million shots.
Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine sales surpassed $56 billion globally last year, but analysts anticipate that to be around $20 billion this year.
Michael Yee, a Jefferies analyst, stated that the autumn campaign will not be similar to last year’s.
“There was a significant decrease in COVID cases last winter, but it’s unlikely to be lower than 50 million,” Yee noted.
After the COVID public health emergency ended in May, the government has delegated much of the responsibility of vaccinating Americans to the private sector. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 1.1 million people in the United States have died from COVID.
CDC Director Mandy Cohen stated on a podcast that she expects the shots, which must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to be released in the third or fourth week of September. She advised Americans to view these shots as an annual measure to protect themselves, similar to the flu shot.
PFE/BioNTech SE, Moderna, and Novavax have created versions of the COVID vaccine to match the variant they anticipate circulating this fall. The shots are targeted at XBB.1.5, which is similar to EG.5 and Omicron.
CDC data shows that hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients have more than doubled from their June lows, but remain over 90% lower than the Omicron outbreak in January 2022.
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According to some doctors, the elderly and other high risk individuals should receive annual shots as they are more likely to experience severe consequences from COVID-19.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University and liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization practices, stated that the ACIP may make a weaker recommendation for younger, healthier individuals, which could impact demand.
“Is it more appropriate to use this booster on children or the average person with no illness, who is a younger adult,” Schaffner suggested.
The CDC advised children aged 6 and above to receive a single dose of the vaccine that was updated last year.
Research published by Dr. David Boulware, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Minnesota, indicates that individuals who are boosted have less severe symptoms for a shorter period.
“He suggested that the most effective way to reduce the duration of illness is by being boosted,” he said.
Michael Erman is responsible for reporting, while Caroline Humer and Diane Craft are editing.
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