Moderna Asks FDA to Approve Fourth COVID-19 Vaccine Dose for 18+

Moderna Asks FDA to Approve Fourth COVID-19 Vaccine Dose for 18+
A sign at the Moderna headquarters is seen in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

Moderna has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a fourth dose of its COVID-19 vaccine for use in adults 18 years old and over, according to a press release from the pharmaceutical company late Thursday. Pfizer and BioNTech sought similar approval on Tuesday but its fourth dose would only be available to those 65 years and older.

“The request to include adults over 18 years of age was made to provide flexibility for the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and healthcare providers to determine the appropriate use of an additional booster dose of mRNA-1273, including for those at higher risk of COVID-19 due to age or comorbidities,” the company said in a statement.

Moderna went on to say that its decision to seek FDA approval was based on studies from the U.S. and Israel about the the omicron strain of the virus, but didn’t elaborate any further. The Moderna boosters for a healthy adult are half the dose given as a first and second dose.

The FDA first approved Moderna’s vaccine, officially known as Spikevax, for emergency use on December 20, 2020, and the vaccine received formal approval in January of this year. Moderna’s booster doses are currently being administered under a emergency use authorization and a second booster dose would be under a similar EUA, provided the FDA gives its approval.

The U.S. reported 37,478 new cases of COVID-19 and 1,307 new deaths from the disease on Thursday, though only 41 of the 50 states reported data for the day. The U.S. have vaccinated just 66% of its population, the lowest rate among wealthy nations, according to Johns Hopkins University.

While some countries have recently seen a decline in COVID-19 cases, like the U.S. and Spain, others have seen a frightening uptick. South Korea, Hong Kong, and mainland China, have all seen dramatic increases, including record numbers of cases. And even countries with less dramatic increases are still seeing a troubling rise in a new subvariant of omicron dubbed BA.2, leading some data experts to worry that yet another wave is coming soon.

Will the U.S. see another wave of COVID-19 anytime soon? It’s entirely possible. But no one really knows for sure, which is kind of a theme we’ve gotten used to during the pandemic. For all we know, the disease could reach its endemic stage soon and simply exist in the background like a host of other viruses. Or we could discover the eye-bleeding variant tomorrow and everything gets infinitely worse.

Whatever happens, get vaccinated and get your booster. People who’ve been vaccinated have a much better chance of fighting off serious disease and death. And if you don’t believe that by now, it’s unlikely anyone can convince you otherwise. In that case, best of luck to you. You’re going to need it.