Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the supplemental Biologics License Application (COMIRNATY 2023-2024 Formulation) for individuals 12 years and older and granted emergency use authorization for individuals 6 months through 11 years of age for the companies’ Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted monovalent COVID-19 vaccine. This season’s vaccine is indicated as a single dose for most individuals 5 years of age and older. Children under the age of 5 may be eligible to receive additional doses of this season’s vaccine if they have not already completed a three-dose series with previous formulations of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This decision follows guidance from the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), which recommended an Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted monovalent COVID-19 vaccine for the 2023-2024 fall and winter season. Although Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccines provide some protection against a range of outcomes from XBB-related COVID-19, evidence suggests that vaccines better matched to currently circulating strains can offer improved protection against symptomatic and severe disease. Pfizer and BioNTech have been manufacturing the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine at risk to ensure supply readiness ahead of the fall and winter season, when demand for COVID-19 vaccination is expected to increase in line with the seasonality period also seen with other respiratory viruses.
“This decision comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are once again climbing. Now, most people 6 months or older in the U.S. are eligible to receive this season’s COVID-19 vaccine, even if they have never been vaccinated against COVID-19 before,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Pfizer. “We expect this season’s vaccine to be available in the coming days, pending recommendation from public health authorities, so people can ask their doctor about receiving their COVID-19 vaccine during the same appointment as their annual flu shot, saving time now and helping to prevent severe disease later when respiratory viruses are at their peak.”
“With today’s decision, an updated vaccine will shortly become available that helps address multiple Omicron XBB-related sublineages, which currently account for the vast majority of COVID-19 cases globally,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “Studies about confirmed viral infections suggest that COVID-19 adopts a seasonal pattern with peaks in fall and winter, similar to other respiratory viruses. Our goal is to provide people worldwide with COVID-19 vaccines that are adapted to circulating virus variants or sublineages.”
The approval of this season’s COVID-19 vaccine is based on the full body of previous clinical, non-clinical, and real-world evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech. Further, the application included pre-clinical data showing this season’s vaccine substantially improved responses against multiple Omicron XBB-related sublineages, including XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, and XBB.2.3, compared to the Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent vaccine. Additionally, pre-clinical data demonstrate that serum antibodies induced by Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted monovalent COVID-19 vaccine, when compared to the Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent vaccine, effectively neutralize the recently emerged Omicron BA.2.86 (Pirola) and the globally dominant Omicron-related EG.5.1 (Eris) subvariant.6
This season’s COVID-19 vaccine will be available in pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics across the U.S. following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2023-2024 formulation for individuals 12 years of age and older can be ordered as either a pre-filled syringe or a single-dose vial. The vaccine remains at no out-of-pocket cost to most Americans.
In the European Union, the Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted monovalent COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY Omicron XBB.1.5) has also received marketing authorization by the European Commission for individuals 6 months of age and older on August 31, 2023. Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted data for their Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted monovalent COVID-19 vaccine to other regulatory authorities around the world.
The COVID-19 vaccines (COMIRNATY) by Pfizer and BioNTech are based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and were developed by both companies. BioNTech is the Marketing Authorization Holder for COMIRNATY and its adapted vaccines (COMIRNATY Original/Omicron BA.1; COMIRNATY Original/Omicron BA.4/BA.5; COMIRNATY Omicron XBB.1.5) in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other countries, and the holder of emergency use authorizations or equivalents in the United States (jointly with Pfizer) and other countries.
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